BC Cannabis Private Retail Applications Now Open!

BC’s application portal is open! Applications for private non-medical cannabis retail licenses are now available here.

The federal Cannabis Act will come into force on October 17, 2018. This has the primary effect of legalizing access to cannabis across Canada, regulating the promotion and advertising of cannabis, and delegating power to provinces and territories to set a variety of other limitations on the use and sale of cannabis.

In April 2018, British Columbia introduced their corresponding legislation surrounding the production, distribution, and use of cannabis products within the Province. The new Acts set up a mix of public and private non-medical cannabis retail operations and gives power to local governments to set limitations on the amount and location of dispensaries within their own communities. There are many other requirements that further restrict the retail and marketing of cannabis. More information on these parameters can be found here.

The application process requires applicants other than Indigenous Nations to be registered in BC as sole proprietors, partnerships, or corporations. Indigenous Nations can apply in their own right or as any one of the prior legal entities. The applicant must own, lease or have an agreement to lease the proposed retail store location before applying. The application further requires detailed information about the applicant and associates, proposed dispensary location (including information about the building and floorplan) other licenses held or applied for by the applicant and associates (if any), and a declaration of any financial, business or family connections to federally licensed cannabis producers, retail licence holders, or applicants for retail licences. To finalize this licence, the province will also require security screening, financial integrity checks and proof of approval of the local government. The process for obtaining approval is being developed and will be released by the province in the near future. If the proposed dispensary is located on-reserve, approval of the Indigenous government will be required.

There are several factors an Indigenous Nation should consider in assessing whether to pursue economic development opportunities in non-medical cannabis. These include:

• Determining the appropriate applicants for the licenses, and whether or not a Nation itself should apply.

• Ensuring membership approval of the cannabis industry and knowledge of the potential adverse affects on individuals and communities as a whole.

• Developing community laws to ensure the appropriate regulatory framework is in place.

• The negotiation of taxation agreements with respect to cannabis.

• The possibility of lifetime travel bans imposed by United States Border Agents (for more information see the following article.)

The rapidly expanding cannabis industry and coming legalization of non-medical cannabis means new and potentially highly profitable economic development opportunities for Indigenous Nations. However, it is a complex issue and careful planning and community engagement will be important to ensuring success for any Nation that wishes to participate. If you have any questions regarding this information, please do not hesitate to contact us.