Tony Le is owner of Green Era cannabis dispensary in Maple Ridge, one of many marijuana stores in B.C. (Neil Corbett/Black Press)

Which B.C. marijuana stores will survive?

Province will require background, criminal record checks

A proliferation of pot store owners are getting ready for legalization in B.C., but they will have to wait a while to see if they can get a provincial licence.

The attorney general’s ministry posted details Thursday of its requirements for cannabis retail licences, to be issued to qualifying stores in preparation for the federal legalization of recreational marijuana sales in October.

B.C.’s Liquor Control and Licensing Branch has been renamed the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch in preparation for the new era, where Canada becomes the first industrialized country to make the product legal for adult use.

Production and medical use of marijuana remain a federal responsibility. B.C. and other provinces are in charge of wholesale and retail sales, potentially including sales of home-grown marijuana if production is federally approved.

Actual licence applications and fee amounts are not yet available, but prospective store owners are urged to study the details to see if they are ready to roll or one toke over the line. A few highlights:

• Operating an illegal cannabis store before October doesn’t disqualify you from getting a provincial licence, but you must pass a background and criminal record check first.

• Local approval is required for the province to consider a licence. Municipalities set rules on the number and location of stores and proximity to schools, and may decide they want only B.C. government cannabis stores or none at all.

• Online sales will be allowed only for B.C. government stores. Medical cannabis will continue to be sold online only, by federally licensed producers.

• Licensed stores may sell federally approved accessories, including rolling papers, pipes and vapourizers.

• Unlike liquor stores, no one under the age of 19 may enter a licensed recreational marijuana store in B.C.

• Consumption lounges will not be permitted in B.C., although they may be considered in the future. Also, no edibles until they are federally approved and no sampling or consumption in stores.

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