B.C.’s First Private Cannabis Store Licensed in Kimberley

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B.C.’s first private non-recreational cannabis licence has been issued to a former East Kootenays medical pot shop.

Tamaras Cannabis in Kimberley will get its licence from B.C.’s Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch on Thursday. The store was the first medical cannabis dispensary in Canada to receive a business licence from its local government, even before Vancouver, after a vote by council in 2015.

“I’m feeling a little thrilled right now,” said owner Tamara Duggan on Wednesday night. “When I get that document in my hand, that’ll be a pretty exciting moment.”

The store began selling cannabis for non-medical uses on Oct. 17, but upon receiving its licence number Thursday will be able to order cannabis wholesale from the B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch — the only legal way that private stores can acquire product to resell for recreational use.

Duggan, who owns the store with her husband Rod, said officials came by to inspect it Tuesday night, gave them a positive review and told them to pay a licence fee on a government website, which wasn’t functional that night but was fixed Wednesday.

“It’s been a fairly lengthy — even, at times, arduous — process,” she said with a chuckle. “Every step of the way the government’s only been the next step ahead of me.”

Duggan said Tamarack would keep the same staff and remain focused on customer service, but said the product line would change and they’ll start selling smaller amounts, including one-gram samples.

She said pricing will be a “mystery” until she receives her licence number Thursday and can log onto the B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch’s wholesale website.

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“It was kind of interesting because I knew they were working really hard to pull the whole system together and then found out that I was basically the guinea pig,” she said.

“So for the folks coming behind me — thank you very much — I’ve done the hard work for you.”

Recently re-elected mayor Don McCormick said Kimberley hasn’t received a single complaint about Tamarack, and said the Duggans had donated tens of thousands of dollars to local non-profits.

“Tamarack Dispensaries has been an awesome corporate citizen, they’ve been awesome for the community, and I think it’s only fitting that they would get the first commercial licence in the province,” he said.

“They thought it was incredibly important to be a valuable part of the community, and they’ve gone out of their way to make that so.”

The province began accepting applications online for private and government store licences on Aug. 10 and since then, only a single B.C. Cannabis Store has opened, in Kamloops, operated by the B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch. But as of Wednesday, the province had received 255 paid applications for stores and 90 have been sent to local governments or Indigenous nations for their input, according to a weekly report.

Another 300-plus applicants have started the application process but not paid the province’s $7,500 fee.

The B.C. Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch has also applied to open government stores at two locations in Nanaimo, according to a report from local paper the News Bulletin. Kamloops city council has approved a pair of private stores, while council in Port Hardy has approved one.

Both the Ministry of Attorney General and LDB declined to provide more detail about the number and specific locations of applications.

Sara Mohsin, client executive at Rising Tide Consultants, who works with cannabis-store applicants, said she couldn’t share sensitive information about their applications but said there is now a turnaround time of about two weeks between submission and the province informing them that an application has been referred to local government.

“We did hear back in an effective, timely fashion from the LCRB,” Mohsin said. “The turnaround was quick.”

In Vancouver, where some dispensaries continue to operate without licences, the province has sent nine applications to the city for vetting since Sept. 19. City staff have notified eight of the applicants and is reviewing one application further, spokesman Jag Sandhu said in an email.

Seven of the applicants already had city development permits, and five of them have now since posted signs, to be displayed for 14 calendar days, indicating they intend to obtain a provincial retail licence. The public can submit feedback regarding the applications to the city, which it will take into consideration.

After that, they’ll need to undergo a city inspection before they can get a city business licence and open.

Sandhu said the city wasn’t yet certain when the first store would open.

Source: Vancouver Sun

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