Five local cannabis dispensaries are a step closer to opening shop – legally.
In the lengthy approval process from the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB), applicants must put forward an application to the province, which gets sent back to the municipality to be approved for a zoning change. After a proper rezoning, the application is then sent back to the LCRB which must deem it “fit and proper” in its assessment. Both of The Original Farm locations– at 1402 Douglas St. and 3055 Scott St. – have been deemed “fit and proper” and are going towards the next stage: public consultation.
Three other businesses are currently in the consultation process, including Cloud Nine Collective at 778 Fort St. and two Clarity locations and 851 Johnson St. and 603 Gorge Road E.
For this stage, the businesses pay a fee, and the City of Victoria reaches out to owners and residents within 100 metres of the proposed location as well as to the local neighbourhood association for feedback. Afterwards, public feedback is brought back to council, which must then give a final note of approval to the province. The province will then approve or reject the issuance of a license. Upon provincial approval, the City can issue a business license.
The arduous process will be worthwhile, said Allan Lingwood, head of compliance for The Original Farm, as long as enforcement comes into place against illegal operations once legal dispensaries are available.
“Hopefully then the non-compliant retailers get shut down immediately; it’s a conflicting message to consumers,” Lingwood said. “There’s no way legal dispensaries will be able to compete with illegal ones … They’ll be able to drop prices more than ours, and exercise anything they like to sell that product while we, however, cannot.”
Lingwood said that since Oct. 17, when the law around cannabis should have been black and white, many retailers chose to stay in the grey zone.
“I understand now that people need access, and they deserve access,” Lingwood said. “But as soon as there’s legal product available in the market, that’s when consumers need to support legal businesses.”
After being deemed “fit and proper,” businesses can anticipate another four-to-six week process before being granted a business license.
“It’s a very costly venture to follow the law,” Lingwood said, adding that The Original Farm will be advocating for more legal enforcement once their doors are open. “I’ll certainly be yelling from the rooftops if the time comes.”
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