B.C. dispensaries left in legal limbo as recreational cannabis is legalized

Click to play video: 'Illegal pot stores face shutdown threats'
Illegal pot stores face shutdown threats
Now that marijuana is legal for sale at one store and online, illegal pot shops are being told to shut down. But not everyone is heeding the warning. Sarah MacDonald reports – Oct 17, 2018

Canadians can now legally purchase pot online or in person, but in British Columbia, it’s easier said than done.

Just one government-run dispensary has opened its doors in Kamloops. And while hundreds of other dispensaries remain in operation around the province, many remain in legal limbo.

Some private stores, like EDEN Medicinal Supplies in Vancouver, have closed their doors in the hopes it will improve their chances of eventually obtaining a license to operate legally.

“We don’t know for sure how long the closure is going to be,” said store manager Vanessa Dandurand. “It could be two weeks. It could be two months.”

Other dispensaries like Weeds Glass and Gifts are defying the province’s edict to close.

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WATCH: B.C.’s first government pot store opens its doors

Click to play video: 'B.C.’s first government pot store opens its doors'
B.C.’s first government pot store opens its doors

Don Briere, the chain’s owner and operator, says his business has an obligation to serve it’s customers.

“We’re taking money away from organized crime. If the government stores start over pricing it and overtaxing it, it’s very easy to grow cannabis,” Briere said.

Another point of contention? Pricing of pot. Critics are taking aim at the province’s price point—which Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth insists is competitive with other provinces.

“B.C.’s prices are very competitive when you look at how they compare to other provinces,” said Farnworth.

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But the high price point — with cannabis costing between $6.99 and $13.99 per gram, depending on the product — has already caught the attention of the Vancouver Police Department.

“That could be an issue going forward,” according to Sgt. Jason Robillard. “It being too expensive, and being sold outside of legitimate means.”

The concern of some critics is that high prices will push buyers back to the black market — with some pot users already vowing to stick to their dealers, or private dispensaries. Legal or not.

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