Store manager Charity Neufeld and Rob MacIsaac. (Photo Gerry Leibel)

Kitimat has two cannabis store licence applications

“The people fighting this most are pot smokers who don’t want to pay taxes.”

Rob MacIsaac is one of two local entrepreneurs that has applied for a licence to sell cannabis in Kitimat.

Speaking exclusively to the Northern Sentinel last week, MacIsaac said should both applications go through, there will still be an opportunity for more stores to open in Kitimat.

“There are enough cannabis smokers in this town to keep four shops going,” MacIsaac added.

Aptly named Euphoria Cannabis, his store will be located on Entreprise Ave. in the Service Centre, near to the Kitimat Hotel.

The District of Kitimat bylaw specifies stores may only be located in two areas, in the city centre or in the Service Centre. MacIsaac said he chose the location in the Service Centre because he has objections to cannabis stores being located in the mall.

“I don’t believe the stores should be in the mall, or anywhere near where kids hang out regularly,” said MacIsaac. “We shouldn’t be promoting cannabis to anyone under 25-years-old.”

He said while he supports the legalization of cannabis, he has a few concerns about the legislation, particularly with the effect the legalization will have on the youth.

MacIsaac also objects to the legislation allowing the use of cannabis in public spaces and walkways.

“We don’t allow people to walk down the street with a beer, so why allow people to smoke pot on the street?” asked MacIsaac, who is a father himself. “I don’t smoke pot where my kid can smell it.”

He said opposition to the opening of a store has been minimal, resistance coming mostly from people who are currently cannabis smokers.

“People will continue to buy from unlicensed dealers – they still want to buy and smoke cannabis, but they don’t want the government to have a cut,” said MacIsaac. “The people fighting this most are pot smokers who don’t want to pay taxes.”

He said the legalization application is a long and involved process, with checks and balances at every stage of the application. However, he said it’s worth it as legalization brings a lot of advantages for licensed dealers.

All products sold in the store have to be purchased from the BC Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB), which is the is the sole, wholesale distributor of non-medical cannabis for the province.

“I can choose which varieties I want to buy but I can’t sell it cheaper than what the LDB sells it to me for. Every gram I buy has to be accounted for,” said MacIsaac.

He said the product can only be promoted in-store, and that he can’t sell anything in the store other than cannabis. The store windows have to be blacked out from inside so that no product is visible to anyone walking past.

Store owners aren’t allowed to set up displays and may only provide customers with a ‘menu’ – a page with photos of the product.

MacIsaac is also not allowed to talk about any medicinal advantages cannabis might have.

The background checks for any applicant are exhaustive, going back 15 years, including a criminal history check.

MacIsaac’s application, which was launched in October 2018, still has to go before the District of Kitimat council and requires public input as well.

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