Pot shops wait on province

It's been almost a month since Lake Country councillors changed their minds and approved the municipality's first cannabis retail store, but the province has yet to give its final stamp of approval. 

While Lake Country's council initially denied Compass Cannabis Clinic's variance application to open their retail store within a 400-metre buffer of a nearby daycare, they approved the store in a second vote on Dec. 18 after significant public support.

While construction of the store is now pretty well finished up and government inspectors have been through the store, the province has yet to issue a licence.

“Unfortunately, there's a lot of waiting in this industry, and we're stuck back in that waiting game route,” said Dave Martyn, president of Compass Cannabis Clinics.

Compass Cannabis is currently working on opening about 30 Starbuds retail stores across the country, but Martyn, a Lake Country resident, is hoping his company's first store will be within a short drive of his home.

The company is also waiting on B.C. government approval for stores in Dawson Creek and Fernie, and they're hoping to open in Revelstoke in the near future.

Martyn says he hopes final approval will come within days, rather than weeks or months.

The Higher Path cannabis store in Trail was granted a licence late last week, shortly after three licences were given to Vancouver retail stores. There are currently seven provincially licensed private cannabis stores in B.C. in addition to the government-run store that opened in Kamloops on Oct. 17.

Summerland city council approved the Green Gaia Cannabis Co. last month, but the store has not been granted a provincial licence at this time. Kelowna city council has not approved any cannabis stores, but a map of the 36 proposed locations can be found at the bottom of this story. 

Meanwhile, Indigenous Bloom opened up its second cannabis retail store on Okanagan Indian Band land, just south of Lake Country, last week. The company, which advertises “medicinal hemp and cannabis,” does not have provincial licences for its two stores.

Across the country, Starbuds has 26 potential sites in Alberta, where they're waiting for new licensing to reopen, and they were granted a licence through a lottery system in Saskatchewan. The company is waiting for the second round of licensing to open in Manitoba and while they weren't granted a licence in the recent Ontario licensing lottery, they're looking to partner with some of those who did.

“B.C. may be slow ... but the actual application and licensing process has been good, it just has not gone quick. Whereas everywhere else you've seen random-chance lotteries, merit-based lotteries, just a completely inconsistent set of rules, not even province-to-province, but city-to-city,” Martyn said. “B.C. as a whole has actually been fairly good to work with in most cases.”

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