B.C.’s first government-run cannabis store to open in Kamloops

BCLDB intends to feature more than 150 cannabis strains from 31 licensed producers

The B.C. Interior community of Kamloops has about 90,000 people | Joseph Hanus/Shutterstock

The B.C. government plans to open its first cannabis store in the province in Kamloops’ Columbia Place Shopping Centre.

The government’s British Columbia Liquor Distribution Branch (BCLDB), which will run the cannabis stores, plans to apply for municipal approval of the BC Cannabis Store site when the City of Kamloops begins accepting applications for non-medical cannabis retail outlets in September, the government said in a July 10 press release.

B.C. is one of eight provinces that intend to have government-run retail cannabis stores, with Alberta and Saskatchewan opting to have retail sales done entirely by the private sector. B.C. and Newfoundland are the two provinces that intend to have a mix of government-run and private cannabis stores. Nunavut is the only territory that plans to have a mix of private and public retailers. 

Kamloops Mayor Ken Christian is onside with the B.C. government’s plan to have its first store in his community.

“We welcome this announcement that the BCLDB is applying to open the first government-operated BC Cannabis Store in Kamloops,” he said in the government’s press release.

Christian added that the BCLDB’s proposal, like all applications, will require Kamloops city council’s approval before it is allowed to open.

The BCLDB plans to hire about 20 employees for the store, with that including managers, and what the government calls “knowledgeable cannabis consultants.”

All employees at the BCLDB’s BC Cannabis Stores division will receive what the government calls “extensive” training that concentrates on social-responsibility practices related to safety and responsible adult use, comprehensive product knowledge and customer service skills.

The BCLDB will be the province’s sole legal wholesaler of non-medical cannabis, and it has signed memorandums of understanding with 31 licensed producers of non-medical cannabis to provide a wide range of products. Those 31 growers are all of the licensed producers that responded to the BCLDB’s request-for-information process, and are able to supply a sufficient volume of non-medical cannabis when legal sales launch on October 17.

The BCLDB’s initial product assortment is expected to feature more than 150 strains of cannabis that range in terms of quality and price. The BCLDB has also secured supply for an array of cannabis accessories that it plans to sell in BC Cannabis Stores.

“We are thrilled to be reaching this significant milestone in developing a competitive wholesale assortment for non-medical cannabis, said BCLDB CEO Blain Lawson in the press release. “The volume, variety and quality of our product assortment speak to the BCLDB’s commitment to working towards eliminating the illicit market.”

Licensed private retailers will be able to access the wholesale assortment via the LDB's online sales portal. Details of the process for retailers to register with the LDB will be released at a later date.

The BCLDB plans to expand its supplier base after legal sales launch by inviting more licensed producers to apply to become suppliers.