Figures suggest the pending legalization of recreational marijuana will not exactly trigger a green boom.
As of August 30, the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB) has received 72 paid applications from would-be retailers of recreational marijuana, with 17 applications coming from Vancouver Island.
No statistics are available for the Greater Victoria area, according to the ministry of the attorney-general, which said it does not release community-specific statistics concerning private business matters between applicants and the LCRB, but also for competitive reasons, since the disclosure of more precise information could influence the market and inadvertently provide private business information.
The federal government has set Oct. 17 as the deadline for the legalization of recreational marijuana, and British Columbians will be able to purchase recreational marijuana at provincial stores, as well as private outlets through a mixed-model
The provincial government this July licensed its first Liquor Distribution Branch store for retail marijuana sales. It also signed agreements with 31 federally licensed producers to stock them when legalization takes effect in October.
But if the provincial government has set the wheels in motion, the number of applications from private retailers suggests a level of hesitancy. Brandon Wright, chief executive officer and co-founder of Baked Edibles, which processes cannabis into food products, called the numbers of applicants low.
Several factors may account for this development. They include among others all the normal obstacles businesses face as they try to establish themselves such as financing, procurement of product, and retail space. But the recreational pot industry also possesses its own industry-specific barriers. Not unlike alcohol during the late 19th century and early parts of the 20th century, marijuana enters the market place with a social stigma that translates into local prohibition.
Under the terms of the pending legalization, municipalities will be able to restrict the sales, production and distribution of recreational marijuana, and number of communities in the Greater Victoria area including Saanich have passed such measures.
In this way, they not act any differently than the countless of Canadian communities that had passed local ordinances against liquor at the turn of the 19th into the 20th century.
This said, Saanich has also signalled that it would be limit its current “full prohibition” once it has received additional information. This hesitancy on behalf of municipalities also appears in the general public.
Less than half of British Columbians think the country is prepared for the change, according to a new poll by Insights West issued in early September.
It says 46 per cent of respondents said they feel confident in the federal government rolling out the Cannabis Act on Oct. 17. Only four per cent more feel the province is ready.