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

Summerland begins reopening aquatic centre

First phase of reopening planned for Sept. 8

Morning Start: The Exorcist film set was haunted

Your morning start for Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020

Former Summerlander receives Emmy nomination for makeup work

Lucky Bromhead recognized for her work with Canadian sitcom Schitt’s Creek

Morning Start: High heels were first designed for men

Your morning start for Monday, Aug. 10, 2020

Local state of emergency declared at Penticton home

Slope failure cited as city issues notice at home in 600 block of Heather Road

Perseid meteor shower at peak on Aug. 11 and 12

Find place away from city lights for optimal viewing

Brain safety top of mind for North Okanagan kids

Bylaw officers noticing a number of youth out riding bikes, scooters, skateboards without helmets

Lawsuit launched after Florida child handcuffed, booked and briefly jailed

Suit alleges “deliberate indifference” to what should have been handled as a behavioural issue

Russia approves vaccine, Putin hopes to begin mass production

Critic calls decision to proceed without thorough testing ‘dangerous and grossly immoral’

UPDATE: House fire spreads to nearby bush in North Okanagan

Small blaze burning near Vernon in Six Mile area

Man, 54, charged in connection with fatal attack of Red Deer doctor

Doctor was killed in his walk-in clinic on Monday

Doctor slain in Alberta medical clinic was devoted father, husband

Red Deer doctors on edge after attack on colleague who had two young daughters

Most Read