British Columbia has adopted a mixed model for distribution and sale of recreational cannabis in the province, which allows for both private and government-run retail cannabis stores.
The province has not capped the number of stores that may be opened in the province, but no one entity may hold or have an interest in more than eight stores. Central distribution will be handled exclusively by the province, and all cannabis retail store owners must order cannabis for their stores from the Liquor Distribution Branch. Online sales are allowed only by the province.
Private retail store licences are issued by the British Columbia Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB) following a detailed application process in which applicants must disclose information about their business, financial/criminal history, and the proposed location. The key to getting a licence is to provide the government with a carefully structured application demonstrating good character, a secured site, approval of the local government, and the personal/financial ability to operate a cannabis retail store.
Licensed producers of cannabis are not permitted to own private retail stores directly, though they may have financial or ownership interests in other entities that hold retail store licenses. All retail store applicants in B.C. must disclose any ownership in a licensed producer or processor, and the province will bar sale of a licensed producer’s/processor’s products in a retail store in certain cases where a retail store has a personal, financial or business connection with a licensed producer or processor.
In addition to private retail store licenses, British Columbia has introduced two classes of license unique to the province. First is the “cannabis marketing license” which allows third parties to market cannabis products to retail store owners. The federal government has set fairly restrictive laws regarding cannabis advertising, so the cannabis marketing license promises some opportunity for the promotion of cannabis within British Columbia.
The province has also proposed to introduce a special retail sales license specifically for licensed micro-processors of cannabis. No details on this license have been released, but it will presumably allow standard and micro-processors to sell their own products directly to consumers.
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