It will still be a while before rural areas can make cannabis purchases from a local shop.
The Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine (RDKS) is beginning the process of amending its bylaws to regulate licensed non-medical cannabis stores and potential production of recreational cannabis, but that end goal is ultimately dependent on the province’s retail distribution.
According to Deklan Corstanje, the RDKS economic development officer, the RDKS drafts of the bylaw amendments will take several months to make.
And even so, it’s still unknown when B.C. will open up its portal for rural retail store licencing.
Currently, it appears that applications for cannabis retail store licences are taking priority in urbanized areas, such as Terrace itself, before B.C. makes the move into rural or remote areas.
On the province’s Cannabis Licensing page, the rural retail store licence section states, “Once the regional distribution of retail non-medical cannabis stores is known, the Province will consider issuing licences to service rural or remote areas that are not sufficiently served by existing retail cannabis stores.”
Licence applicants have to go through the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB), who then notify the local government about the proposal.
But according to Liam Butler, a Public Affairs Officer from the Ministry of the Attorney General, this is not the case.
He says in an email that there is no priority approval process for urban over rural applications and mentions that Kimberley, B.C. is the first private retail store that has been issued a license so far. He notes that it’s considered to be a rural area.
It’s unclear whether the definition of rural is interpreted in the same way though, as Kimberley has a population of approximately 7,500.
As of Nov. 15, a total of 289 paid applications for regular retail store licences across B.C. have been submitted, along with another 159 applications that have been paid but are incomplete. Only one licence has been issued, and two have been approved with conditions. This only applies to regular retail store licences for cannabis in B.C.
Corstanje says a public hearing will be included in the process in the upcoming months.
Both of these bylaws are scheduled to be first presented at the board meeting on Dec.14.