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B.C. says 35 legal marijuana shops in latter stages of approval process
VICTORIA - Only one government-approved marijuana store will open in British Columbia on Wednesday when pot sales become legal across Canada, but the province's public safety minister doesn't expect a supply shortage.
Mike Farnworth said other outlets will follow the only approved store in Kamloops in the coming months. He said the government's online marijuana service will be in full operation Wednesday.
“What we are doing is putting in place a legal cannabis regime,” Farnworth told a news conference Monday. “I've said it is not going to happen overnight and it is going to take some time.”
He expects some marijuana dispensaries to close by Wednesday in efforts to improve their chances for licences to operate while others may stay open and gamble on future approvals.
Enforcement will be a local issue, Farnworth said as he sidestepped concerns customers could have about shopping at cannabis stores that aren't officially approved after Wednesday.
“The 18th of October in many ways is going to look a lot like today,” he said. “As we've said, there will be enforcement in place but I've said a number of times now that enforcement is going to take place as more and more legal stores open. Then enforcement will ramp up.”
The government has received 173 applications for cannabis retail outlets, Farnworth said. So far, 62 have been reviewed and submitted to local governments for further review and 35 of those are in the latter stages of the approval process, he said.
Farnworth advised owners of cannabis retail outlets that stay open after Wednesday without approval to “start to abide by those rules.”
“The sooner they move to a legal system the better it is.”
He said Wednesday's legalization of marijuana across Canada is a historic day that represents a major public policy shift.