HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Cannabis Dispensaries Get Real Oct. 17, 2018 Municipal
Pubdate: Fri, 22 Jun 2018
Source: National Post (Canada)
Copyright: 2018 Canwest Publishing Inc.
Author: Dirk Meissner


VICTORIA - On the day Canadians can legally buy and use recreational
marijuana, the clock will start ticking for cannabis dispensaries
already open across the country, say politicians and pot industry insiders.

On Oct. 17, provincial licensing, monitoring and approval regulations
on legal marijuana retail standards will become law and the cannabis
business will get real for marijuana shops currently operating outside
the rules.

"These are the same people who cried for legalization," said Vancouver
Coun. Kerry Jang. "Now they've got it, and they have to play by the

Jang, who has been at the forefront of Vancouver's push to bring
medical and recreational marijuana into the marketplace, said he
doesn't expect to see boarded up dispensaries in October, but added
that some won't survive provincial regulation.

"There's going to be this period of transition when everybody moves to
the legal system that will probably be a little Wild West. It will be
a bit woolly for a while, but eventually it will all come into

It's unclear how many dispensaries are currently operating across the

Vancouver was the first to move to regulate the industry when the
number of illegal shops ballooned past 100. In 2015, the city imposed
strict regulations and a licence fee of almost $32,000.

Victoria started its own regulation process for dispensaries in

Terry Lake, a former British Columbia health minister, said he
believes most provinces will act carefully on current dispensaries,
taking graduated steps, starting with warnings to comply, then
progressing to closure notices.

Lake now works as a vice-president at Hydropothecary, an Ottawa-based
company looking to expand into the recreational marijuana market. He
said the public's transition from buying black-market marijuana,
including from existing dispensaries, to legal marijuana could last a
few years.

Today's store owners could play a key role in establishing the legal
market for cannabis, Lake said.

"Apart from the fact they are doing something illegal, they've been
actually pretty responsible," he said in a telephone interview from
Hull, Que. "From the legal industry point of view, I'm always very
conscious of the fact that we only got here because of the social
activism to change away from prohibition."

Each province has slightly different rules for selling recreational

When Ontario announced its regulations in September, then-attorney
general Yasir Naqvi put illegal dispensaries on notice that they would
be shut down, and police have moved to close some outlets.

Only the Ontario Cannabis Store will legally sell recreational
cannabis in that province.

The Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority will issue about 60
cannabis retail permits to private operators in as many as 40
municipalities and First Nation communities.

In Nova Scotia, the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation will be the only
authorized seller of cannabis.

The Liquor Control and Licensing Branch will be responsible for
licensing private cannabis stores and monitoring the retail sector in

The new rules will prohibit recreational marijuana retailers in B.C.
from using terms that could lead people to think they sell medicinal
cannabis. Business names including the words pharmacy, apothecary and
dispensary won't be approved, the province said in guidelines for
prospective retailers.

B.C.'s Ministry of Public Safety is hiring a "director of cannabis
control" and a "community safety unit" to enforce provincial rules,
though Public Safety Ministry Mike Farnworth has previously stated the
cannabis transition period could last up to three years

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said the city is looking ahead to October
with enthusiasm.

About a dozen marijuana stores operating in the city have received
zoning and business licence approvals and about 30 others are in some
stage of the approval process, she said.

"What I am is relieved the province is going to be stepping into the
space the city has been regulating on its own," Helps said.

She said she expects a transition period between six months to one
year before retailers receive their provincial approvals.

Helps said the city will likely have some say in provincial approvals
of cannabis shops.

"The ones that have been following the rules, I'm much more
comfortable making a strong recommendation to the province," she said.
"The ones that have kind of thumbed their nose at the rules to date,
and now want to come forward for a provincial licence and get the
city's approval, I think they are going to have a harder time."
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