B.C. has entered the world of legalized recreational marijuana without any major snags.
Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth says the online rollout of cannabis sales went well, with the website holding up and about 1,000 purchases taking place within the first hour.
“It’s a big day for B.C. today and a big day for the rest of the country,” Farnworth said.
The province’s online store has seen steady traffic since legalization and the website did not crash as some had feared and expected.
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As for price, Farnworth says British Columbia compares favourably to other jurisdictions across the country.
“We have the widest selection of product of any province. Some of them are specialty strains that are going to be quite popular. Ours includes the PST, the GST, all of those things are in the price,” Farnworth said. “We are competitive with other provinces.”
“This is a business. There will be market forces at work here.”
Legal recreational marijuana was available to purchase just after midnight on Wednesday. There is one brick and mortar retail location in the province, a government store in Kamloops, set to open on Wednesday.
Farnworth has been asked multiple times this week why the province has only one physical, retail location. The Public Safety minister says that there are 35 applications for private store permits in the later stages of approval and that the province wasn’t willing to impose stores on municipalities without their support.
“We took a very clear, concise position right from the beginning that local government was going to have a say around when and where (stores) were going to open up in British Columbia,” Farnworth said. “Many communities have indicated that while they are ready to approve retail outlets in their community, they want to get local elections out of the way first.”
The B.C. government will not be informing the public where the applications for private stores are coming from in the province. Farnworth called the process “confidential” and once local governments are prepared to process the applications, they have the option to provide the location information to the public.
“People making an application right at this point, that is a confidential application process. But what is happening is that it is local government making the decision when they will go public,” Farnworth said.
The provincial government will only say that more legal stores will start popping up over “the next few months” and that the government needs to tackle issues like the legalization of edibles. Those edible products are set to become legally available in a year’s time.
“Moving to a legal regime for a product that has been banned for nearly a century will take some time,” Farnworth said. “Our government will be dealing with this significant policy change for years to come.”