British Columbia’s solicitor general says the government has been working hard to transition away from the province’s illegal marijuana industry.

Mike Farnworth says in a statement that the government recognizes cannabis production has been a significant economic driver in many rural regions and is committed to supporting a legal, small-scale marijuana industry.

One year after legalization, he says the Province has processed close to 300 applications for new retail stores and referred them to local governments

He says says 144 private cannabis retail store licences have been issued and 33 are approved in principle, while 10 government-owned stores will be operating by the end of the year.

“Unlike other provinces, B.C. had a well-entrenched cannabis industry prior to legalization,” said Farnworth.

“Over the last year, we’ve been working hard on the transition to a well-regulated, legal industry.”

The statement says officers in the Community Safety Unit have helped reduce the availability of illegal marijuana by following up with unlicensed retailers to raise awareness about the regulations, penalties and consequences of breaking the law.

“As this new industry matures, B.C. will continue to take the steps necessary to make sure it is safe and successful,” Farnworth said.

The second phase of cannabis legalization, that came into effect on Thursday, allows for the commercial production and retail sale of edibles including baked goods, extracts such as cannabis oil, and topicals such as creams.

The earliest those items will be available is December because producers must provide 60 days notice to Health Canada of their intention to sell them.

With files from Canadian Press