The value of B.C.’s legal cannabis sector has more than quadrupled over the three years since Canada legalized non-medical cannabis.
The Province now has the third-highest number of legal cannabis retail stores and second-highest number of federal production licence holders in the country.
“As British Columbia passes the three-year anniversary of non-medical cannabis legalization, we are continuing to develop made-in-B.C. approaches to ensure we have a strong and diverse cannabis sector, while working to keep organized crime out of the industry,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “Legal B.C. cannabis businesses contribute to local economies and generate tax revenues that help pay for the schools, hospitals and services we all rely on.”
B.C. has 375 licensed private retail stores, plus 30 public retail stores under the BC Cannabis Stores brand. A further 57 applications from throughout the province for private stores are approved in principle, as government strives to assess, improve and tighten processing timelines for retail licensees.
To help encourage more B.C. cannabis consumers to shift to the legal market from the illicit, government is launching Buy Legal, a public education ad campaign encouraging people to buy cannabis from provincially authorized cannabis retail stores that offer regulated and tested products. This campaign also emphasizes helping to strengthen local economies and keep profits out of the hands of illegal operators and organized crime. The ads contain a single link to online resources, including a map of legal sellers: https://justice.gov.bc.ca/lcrb/map
From the start, B.C. recognized the importance of cannabis production as a significant economic driver in many rural regions and has worked to ensure small-scale cannabis growers have an opportunity to enter the legal market. Support to date includes the Province funding a pilot project in the Central Kootenay region to help 53 businesses receive licence-application support. Seventeen licence types were issued to 12 client organizations and 62 jobs were created, transitioned or maintained by the end of the program in July 2021.
As well, B.C. is developing programs for direct delivery and farm-gate sales, which will launch in 2022. These programs will help smaller cannabis producers get products to market faster and build brand recognition. As of Oct. 8, 2021, B.C. had a total of 192 federal licence holders, including 55 micro-producers and 13 nurseries.
The Province remains committed to reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples as they move toward self-determination and creating opportunities for Indigenous Peoples to be full partners in the economy, including the cannabis sector. B.C. is also developing an Indigenous shelf-space program to showcase Indigenous cannabis products.
The Province continues to work with the First Nations Leadership Council as federal and provincial cannabis policies evolve, as well as government-to-government with Nations in exploring cannabis-related agreements, such as the one reached with Williams Lake First Nation (see backgrounder).
Information on cannabis regulation in B.C.: https://www.cannabis.gov.bc.ca
Cannabis testing results: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2021PSSG0050-001115
A backgrounder follows.