Improving Cannabis Policy in BC
The BC Chamber of Commerce Cannabis Working Group (Working Group) comprised of leaders from cannabis production, cultivation, processing, retail, and ancillary businesses released Unlocking BC’s Cannabis Industry. The report identifies three key policy areas with the greatest barriers that limit access to legal cannabis products for residents of BC: consumer access, regulatory costs and taxation, and market design.
BC should be a leader in provincial sales but it is far behind Alberta and has substantially fewer stores to service a much larger population. In terms of sales per capita, BC ranks 5th in Canada.
13 policy recommendations were outlined including online ordering and direct delivery through common carriers, accelerating and maximizing benefits of the farm-gate program, and introducing province-wide allowable zoning for cannabis retail as well as province-wide retail operator licensing.
To reduce regulatory costs and taxation the Working Group would like the 20% provincial tax on cannabis vape products removed. They recommend the province work with the federal government to create a national excise tax based on a calculation of percentage of sales rather than price/gram and to align the excise stamp program into one national excise stamp.
To improve the retail market, the Working Group suggests removing the limit on, or increasing the number of, retail locations per operator to help meet consumer demand for legal cannabis. They would also like retail operators to have the flexibility to reallocate product inventory between stores owned by the same licensee.
These recommendations are consistent with the provincial and federal governments’ original policy objectives of eliminating a significant illicit market, keeping cannabis out of the hands of youth, and protecting public health and safety.
The report states, “In addition to achieving joint policy objectives and goals, it will also unleash billions of dollars in private sector investment that will create more jobs for British Columbians, increase tax revenue, and once again establish the BC cannabis sector as in industry leader within Canada and abroad.”
Read the comprehensive report.