B.C.’s first government cannabis store opens in Kamloops, October 2018. The city is getting two more government stores this year. (B.C. government)

B.C. still losing money on legalized marijuana sales

Talks with municipalities continue on revenue sharing

The B.C. government is working with local governments on a formula for sharing revenue from legalized cannabis sales, but so far there is no revenue to share, Finance Minister Carole James says.

B.C.’s revenues from sales are lagging far behind neighbouring Alberta, which has many more licensed stores and about five times the sales as B.C., according to the latest Statistics Canada figures since recreational marijuana was legalized in October 2018.

James and other B.C. cabinet ministers are preparing for meetings this month with the Union of B.C. Municipalities to discuss the progress of cannabis store licensing and revenue sharing.

“One of the first steps is to look at who is responsible for what, because the province has responsibility for some of the pieces, criminal record checks, background checks,” James said Tuesday as she released the latest B.C. financial reports.

“The municipalities have the bylaw and licensing piece. The other important piece here is there isn’t a profit right now to be able to share. Our costs are outweighing the revenue that’s coming in.”

B.C.’s revenues were lower than all other provinces but Prince Edward Island, and the number of stores has lagged behind Alberta. One issue is the size of the entrenched illegal market in B.C., which historically has produced half of Canada’s output.

Alberta now has more than 270 licensed cannabis retailers, while B.C. has issued licences for just over 60. James said legalization last fall coincided with B.C. municipal elections, so their licensing and zoning were delayed.

“Part of it may be B.C.’s long history of an illegal market, and people moving to a legal market from an illegal market they have lived with for a great number of years,” James said. “That’s a shift that may take some time.”

RELATED: Proposed pot shop too close to elementary school

RELATED: B.C.’s Tilray buys four Alberta cannabis stores

B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth has been traveling the province to meet with “craft cannabis” producers who want to be legal, but police need assurances that they are not linked to organized crime groups that have long operated in B.C.

The province’s new community safety unit has begun moving in to shut down unlicensed cannabis dispensaries, which proliferated in B.C. over the years as quasi-medical operations.

James said the next phase of federal legalization, the approval of cannabis edibles, should change the business picture in B.C.

“There may be some shifts as you look to edibles this coming spring,” James said. “That’s the next step in legalization but we’re continuing our work on that piece with UBCM.”


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislature

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Social media a blessing and a curse during time of crisis: B.C. communication expert

‘In moments of crisis, fear is very real and palpable,’ says SFU’s Peter Chow-White

B.C. COVID-19 contact restrictions working, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

’Not out of the woods yet’ as next two weeks are critical

UPDATED: Some states of local emergency suspended by ministerial order

Suspension applies to regional districts but not First Nations

A letter from Bella Coola doctors on COVID-19: ‘All our lives depend on your actions now’

“None of us are invincible; we can all get it and spread it without even knowing.”

COVID-19: Bella Coola RCMP close detachment front door access

The public is being asked to call 250 799 5363 for assistance

B.C. is seeing the highest rate of COVID-19 recovery in Canada, and there’s a few reasons why

British Columbia was one of the first to see rise in COVID-19 cases, and has also switched up testing

World COVID-19 update: U.S. expects 100,000 deaths; Oregon declares disaster

Comprehensive update of world news for Sunday, March 19.

No plans to call in military right now to enforce COVID-19 quarantine: Trudeau

Trudeau unveils $7.5M for Kids Help Phone, $9M for vulnerable seniors amid COVID-19

Sewers stitch masks to free up supplies for front-line health-care workers

“We have little old ladies sewing up a storm,” said Joan Davis

Experts weigh in on best handling of groceries during COVID-19 pandemic

Study suggests the virus can live for up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to three days on plastic

‘There is community’: B.C. councillor welcomes new baby into world amid COVID-19 pandemic

‘I realize there’s much more than fear and worry… there is hope, there is new life’: Jason Lum

‘Community is amazing’: Williams Lake woman organizes drive-by birthdays

With self-isolation the norm due to COVID-19 children are missing out

Earth Hour 2020 kicks off online Saturday night

Action moves online due to COVID-19

B.C. COVID-19 cases rise 92 to 884, one more death, 81 in care

Outbreak action underway in 12 long-term care homes

Most Read