Marijuana is grown for medical use, with production set to expand as recreational use is legalized. (Black Press files)

B.C. ‘will be ready’ for marijuana legalization

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth says some stores open by Oct. 17

At least some retail marijuana stores will be ready to open in B.C. on Oct. 17, when recreational sales become legal under federal law, Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth says.

Farnworth wasn’t able to say Wednesday how many private and public stores will be opening in B.C. as a result of federal legalization that passed into law this week, because both private and provincially owned stores must apply for provincial and local approval first.

“I don’t know the exact number of applications that we’ve received yet,” Farnworth said in an interview. “I know there was considerable interest. What I do know is that come legalization date, you’re not going to see 250 stores, whether government or legal. It is something that is going to ramp up over time.”

The B.C. committed to a mix of public and private stores when it passed its enabling legislation this spring, to prepare for the federal law. Farnworth said he is pleased that the effective date was delayed until mid-October.

“We had pushed for a later legalization date,” he said. “July was just unrealistic.”

RELATED: B.C. dispensaries form independent group

RELATED: Saliva test likely for marijuana impairment

The province passed several legal changes of its own, including the extension of police powers to impose a 90-day administrative driving prohibition for drivers found to be impaired by drugs. B.C. also matched its “zero tolerance for alcohol” rule for drivers in the graduated licensing system, to apply to drug impairment as well.

Some quasi-medical private stores have received local business licences in urban areas, and some communities have told the province they are only interested in government stores run by the Liquor Distribution Branch. Municipal councils can also opt to have no retail outlets.

The province has given the LDB a monopoly on wholesale distribution and online sales. Farnworth said the province’s wholesale markup on recreational marijuana has not yet been determined, and the only taxes applied are sales taxes and a federal excise tax.

The lesson of other jurisdictions such as Oregon is to keep taxes low enough that legal sales take over the market from illegal providers, he said.

BC legislaturemarijuana

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(Image: CDC)
Fraser Health orders Surrey food-processing facility to close amid COVID-19 outbreak

Staff member at Surrey long-term care facility also tests positive for the virus

A reminder to students at Surrey’s Strawberry Hill Elementary to physically distance during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Six Surrey schools reporting COVID-19 exposures

INTERACTIVE TABLE: Search for schools, organize by exposure dates

Lotto winner Erwin Espiritu. (submitted photo: BCLC media relations)
$1M lotto surprise for Surrey dad buying takeout food for son’s birthday

‘When I went to show my son, he said that there was six zeros on the screen, not three’

Pumpkins outside Malvinder Gill’s farm on 152nd Street in Surrey. (submitted photo: Sarah Wilson)
At Surrey farm, free pumpkins for donation to food bank

‘Amazing for the community, especially during the pandemic,’ says one local resident

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

The possibility of the Canadian Premier League expanding to the Fraser Valley has been floated online. (Facebook photo)
Canadian Premier League possibly eyeing Fraser Valley expansion

Soccer league looking to add ninth team to the mix, B.C. markets potentially rumoured

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

The family of Anika Janz, who died after collapsing at school, has launched a GoFundMe to assist with funeral proceedings. (GoFundMe photo)
Family of student who died launches GoFundMe

Rick Hansen Secondary School student Anika Janz, 14, died after collapsing in PE class

Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green party says it’s raised nearly $835,000 in 38 days

NDP Leader John Horgan is holding his final virtual campaign event

Most Read