Tamara Duggan is no stranger to being first.
Back in 2016, the owner of Tamarack Cannabis Boutique made history when she became the first person in B.C. to be awarded a municipal licence to operate a medical cannabis dispensary.
“The city of Kimberley was ahead of the pack when it came to looking at what the business was and looking at all the implications and decided because it was an unregulated, un-legislated area that they would support me in my application,” she said.
“And in so doing we were actually — in spite of what a lot of news sources will say — we were the first, even though they might say that Vancouver was. But the record stands.”
Now, Duggan is first again — getting the first nod from the province to operate a private, recreational cannabis retail outlet.
WATCH: B.C.’s first pot shop opens for business in Kamloops
The Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch says the licence will take effect Thursday, Nov. 1.
“It’s a tad bit surreal, actually. The application process has been arduous at best,” Duggan said.
Duggan said she submitted her application two weeks after the province began accepting them in August, but, at times, it felt like regulators were still designing the application as it went.
“It would appear that for every step I take, they’re only one step ahead of me for getting the process done. Last night, they said, ‘You go on and pay your annual licence fee of $1,500.’ So I went to the link they provided and there is nothing there,” she said.
“So today they were busy testing it, making sure it worked, and then they called me to say, ‘OK, now you can pay.'”
Despite the challenges, Duggan said she had faith that the process will be easier for those in line behind her.
“I think for future applicants, the process will be a lot more streamlined, definitely.”
Duggan credited strong support from Kimberley for helping her get her permit, where she said officials were unanimous in their support after receiving no negative from the community about her shop.
According to the province, regulators have already received applications with fees paid from 255 candidates in B.C., and 164 others who have not yet paid their fees.
It says 90 applications have been referred to a local government or First Nation.
The Ministry of the Attorney General says applicants must undergo security screening and financial integrity checks, earn support of their local municipality and pass a store inspection.
Tamarack may soon be joined by another private cannabis outlet in Kamloops, where council heard an application from The Shore Cannabiz Shop on Tuesday.
Kamloops is also home to the province’s only government-run pot shop.