Editorial: Cannabis retail readiness red alert

Is anyone really prepared for marijuana legalization?

The operators of illegal outlets around Metro Vancouver might be, but most legitimate businesses are not.

Judging by the recent release of its recreational marijuana retailing framework, the BC NDP government has been busy preparing for the federal government’s summer legalization.

That framework will largely stifle free-market cannabis commerce with multifold restrictions and a government monopoly to oversee the distribution of another marketplace intoxicant.

Businesses interested in applying for a cannabis retail licence should preparing their pitches now for the spring, when the provincial government plans to roll out an early registration process.

Cannabis entrepreneurs currently operating illegally in Vancouver will have an advantage here: they already have strategic locations staked out and cannabis retail businesses operating.

Laggards who abided by the rules will be late to the party and might miss the punch bowl entirely.

Meanwhile on the other side of the cannabis counter, there’s not much of an operational framework in place yet either, especially in businesses not directly involved in cannabis retail sales and service.

For instance, a recent poll conducted by Human Resources Professionals Association, Business of Cannabis and Public Services Health & Safety Association found that 71% of employers surveyed were not prepared for marijuana legalization.

Workplace safety was rightly atop the list of concerns for human resources professionals. Productivity is likely atop everyone else’s.

With no clarity over what marijuana legalization will mean for company health and safety and no accurate tests available for recreational marijuana impairment, the impact of legalization on workplace productivity will remain a significant unknown long after legal retailing is in full swing.

That bodes ill for more than business owners in this province.