Situation still hazy in B.C. with one month to go until marijuana legalization

Situation still hazy in B.C. with one month to go until marijuana legalization

WATCH: Recreational marijuana will be legal in Canada in exactly one month but is British Columbia ready? Tess van Straaten takes a look.

A new Trees Dispensary has opened in Victoria’s Cook Street Village, ready to capitalize on Canada being only the second country in the world to legalize recreational marijuana.

“I think the fastest growing segment of the population that’s going to be trying out cannabis is in the 40-year-old to 60-year-old range and they live in Cook Street Village,” says Alex Robb of Trees Dispensary.

But with just a month to go until legalization, this dispensary and all the others with municipal licensing still need provincial approval.

“There is a possibility not all of our applications will be approved by October 17th,” says Robb. “The whole industry, the whole country, is going through this uncertain moment right now so we’re just riding the wave along with everybody else.”

B.C.’s public safety minister says there will just be one government store — located in Kamloops — open when marijuana becomes legal and it’s not yet clear if any private stores will have retail licenses by then.

“They have to go through the process all over again with the city to get approval from the city and they’ll have to go through a background check with the province and that’s quite an extensive background check,” explains public safety minister Mike Farnworth. “There’s no grandfathering taking place.”

Some municipalities have even asked dispensaries to close while they wait for approval and critics say the province would be in better shape if it had handled things differently.

“I’m a bit disappointed because I do think that there was a simpler way of doing this, which is to really regulate what exists and works and that is the way to eliminate the illicit market,” says Rielle Capler, interim executive director of the Canadian Association of Medical Cannabis Dispensaries.

With so much still hazy, the province says it won’t ramp up enforcement right away.

“You’re not going to see a wholesale closure of the illegal stores the day after legalization takes place, rather it will be something that happens over time,” Farnworth says.

That means things will likely look a lot like they do now — with the addition of online sales launching next month — as this new, legal industry lights up.

Tess van StraatenTess van Straaten

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