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.

Just Posted

Kootenay Lake ferry to shut down Saturday afternoon

Service to resume Sunday morning at 6:30 a.m.

PHOTOS: Nelson climate strike packs downtown to demand action

An inter-generational crowd staged a ‘die-in’ as part of the global strike Friday

PLACE NAMES: Warfield neighbourhoods

Beaver Bend took its name from a CBC Radio series

Woman stabbed in downtown Nelson

Victim is in hospital, suspect is in police custody

Kootenay-Columbia incumbent MP responds to Trudeau brownface scandal

Stetski proud of NDP leader Singh’s reaction, which focused on people not power

VIDEO: A moment to remember during the World Lacrosse Men’s Indoor Championship in B.C.

Diego Hernandez Valenzuela’s team lost, but he felt like a winner Saturday

PHOTOS: Steller sea lion with plastic around neck rescued on Vancouver Island

Rescue staff determined the plastic band cut the protected animal’s neck approximately two inches

B.C. VIEWS: School officials join fact-free ‘climate strike’

Students, public get distorted picture of greenhouse gases

Handgun crackdown, health spending and transit plans latest campaign promises

Friday was the end of a busy week on the campaign trail

B.C. woman photographs massive ant swarm on Abbotsford driveway

She asked what the ants were doing? The answer: war

Iconic 90s TV show ‘Friends’ celebrates 25th anniversary

The iconic, decade-long television show aired its first episode 25 years ago today

Police arrest B.C. phone scammer linked to illegal call centres in India

Person arrested in Burnaby here on a work visa, says police

Air Canada forced girl, 12, to remove hijab: civil rights group

The San Francisco Bay Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations calling for change

Most Read