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BC Considers Removing 8-Store Cap

BC’s provincial government is reviewing restrictions on the retail license cap.

There is currently no cap on the number of retail cannabis stores that can operate in BC; however, there is a cap for individual licensees. A licensee cannot hold or have an interest in more than eight retail cannabis stores.

Removing Barriers

In a statement provided to Cannabis Retailer, the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General says the province is embarking on work to gradually enable cannabis-related hospitality and tourism opportunities, which are currently limited by provincial and federal laws. It is also reviewing BC’s cannabis market controls, including the restrictions on the retail license cap.

Trees Corporation and 420 Investments Reverse Takeover

On July 13, 2023, Trees Corporation announced it has entered into an agreement with 420 Investments Ltd. for a reverse takeover of the company by 420. This agreement was reportedly made in anticipation of BC removing the eight-store cap restrictions.

420 is a Calgary-based company with 40 cannabis stores across Alberta and Ontario. Trees currently operates 14 storefronts including nine in Ontario and five in BC.

“We are very excited to bring together FOUR20 and Trees,” commented Scott Morrow, Chief Executive Officer of 420. “The union of these two well established brands will give the combined company geographic diversity and create a new springboard for growth. The cannabis retail industry is ready for consolidation and this new company will be in a great position to capitalize on these opportunities.”

More Municipalities Reconsider Cannabis Store Ban

Four municipalities in BC still don’t allow legal cannabis—Richmond, Pitt Meadows, Surrey, and Langley City—but that could soon change.

Pitt Meadows could be getting its first cannabis retailer soon. In 2018, city council voted to prohibit the retail sale of cannabis, although they did allow interested parties to apply for rezoning of specific sites on a case-by-case basis. However, the city had no bylaws in place if an applicant did come forward.

In 2022, cannabis retailer Seed & Stone applied, which led to a city staff report on how to address these types of applications.

The application was approved at third reading by council on July 18, 2023. City staff informed council that once it was passed at third reading, the city would then receive a referral from the LCRB. At that time, the city will then hear a fourth reading to adopt the zoning bylaw and request a licence recommendation to the LCRB.

Surrey Council Votes on Staff Report

In Surrey, the municipality had initially banned cannabis stores entirely. Earlier this spring, there were reports council was reconsidering after being called out by the Surrey Board of Trade.

The city’s Planning & Development Department and the Engineering Department posted a staff report on July 20 seeking council approval of a policy framework for regulating cannabis retail stores.

Staff proposed a general framework for regulating cannabis stores that initially limits the number of store locations to one in each of Surrey’s six town centres (City Centre, Guildford, Fleetwood, Newton, Cloverdale, and Semiahmoo).

According to the report, where a city‐owned site is available, which meets locational criteria set out in the framework, it may be proposed as the initial location within that Town Centre and brought to Council for consideration of rezoning. For these sites, a competitive process will be held to select a business operator, based on criteria and a scoring system (to be developed). Where there is no City‐owned site available in a town centre which meets locational criteria, a competitive process will be held to select both a site and business operator, and in these cases the selected property will be brought to Council for consideration of rezoning along with the business operator.

As an initial ‘pilot’ site, staff identified a city-owned property at 13455-72 Avenue within the Newton Town Centre.

The report was considered by council at their meeting on July 24. All but one city councillor voted to refer the report back to staff to consider new options. Councillors were concerned that the staff report suggested the city first look at authorizing cannabis stores on city-owned property to give the city more control over those stores.

Image courtesy of Trees Cannabis.

Tags: BC cannabis retail (25), BC cannabis store (29), BC Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General (10), BC municipalities (6), British Columbia (24), British Columbia cannabis (45), British Columbia Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (12), Cannabis Regulations (101), LCRB (14), Mike Farnworth (11)