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

Coastal GasLink pipeline investor committed to closing deal despite protests

Developer TC Energy Corp. — formerly TransCanada Corp. — is to remain the operator of the $6.6-billion pipeline

Caledonia Sled Race organizer says volunteers from the community make the race possible

The Caledonia Classic Sled Races marked their silver jubilee this year

Northern Health recommends self-quarantine for people returning from Hubei

The healthcare provider said it isn’t neccessary for healthy children to wear face masks

Wet’suwet’en return to camps near Houston, Coastal GasLink workers move through: First Nation

Opponents of a pipeline who support the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have reoccupied camps at centre of arrests

Risk of coronavirus low for British Columbians: Northern Health

The agency wrote a letter to parents and guardians on Feb. 11 giving them advice and recommendations around the 2019 coronavirus

Pipeline dispute: Tories put no-confidence motion on House of Commons agenda

Conservatives say they have no confidence in the Trudeau government to end the rail blockades

B.C.’s soda drink tax will help kids lose weight, improve health, says doctor

Dr. Tom Warshawski says studies show sugary drinks contribute to obesity

A&W employees in Ladysmith get all-inclusive vacation for 10 years of service

Kelly Frenchy, Katherine Aleck, and Muriel Jack are headed on all-expenses-paid vacations

B.C. mom’s complaint about ‘R word’ in children’s ministry email sparks review

In 2020, the ‘R’ word shouldn’t be used, Sue Robins says

B.C., federal ministers plead for meeting Wet’suwet’en dissidents

Scott Fraser, Carolyn Bennett says they can be in Smithers Thursday

Province shows no interest in proposed highway between Alberta and B.C.

Province says it will instead focus on expanding the Kicking Horse Canyon to four lanes

First case of COVID-19 in B.C. has fully recovered, health officer says

Three other cases are symptom-free and expected to test negative soon

Budget 2020: Weaver ‘delighted,’ minority B.C. NDP stable

Project spending soars along with B.C.’s capital debt

B.C. widow ‘crushed’ over stolen T-shirts meant for memorial blanket

Lori Roberts lost her fiancé one month ago Tuesday now she’s lost almost all she had left of him

Most Read