Legal pot stores in Victoria could still be up to two months away
As Vancouver marks its first legal recreational pot sales with the opening of two licensed dispensaries in the city, businesses in Greater Victoria say their grand openings could still be months away.
Recreational sales of cannabis were legalized in Canada in October 2018, but three months later, Vancouver Island doesn't have a single provincially sanctioned store to purchase at.
Some stores have remained open despite not having a provincial license yet, while others closed on the advice of the government.
"Every day that there isn't another provincial license to put on the wall is another day of uncertainty," said Alex Robb, general manager of Trees Dispensary.
But Robb and others expect another two months of red tape before they can truly be considered legal, and the province is not offering any specific timelines.
Another issue is taking centre stage in the process of legalization, and that's product shortages across the country.
Dispensaries in Alberta have sold out of federally approved product fast, while in Quebec, chronic shortages have become so bad that stores are closing three days a week.
On the west coast, B.C. has aligned with 35 federally licensed producers so far, but Robb says it still isn't enough.
"Unless the B.C. government can find a way to transition its micro-cultivators and small-scale growers into the legal system rapidly, then B.C. will face the same supply issues," said Robb.
The province says it is open to do business with any cannabis growers that have a federal stamp of approval.
According to the B.C. government's cannabis licensing website, six licences have been issued in total. Three of those are in Greater Vancouver and the Sunshine Coast, and three were issued in northern B.C. and the interior.
British Columbians are still able to purchase legal pot online via the government-run BC Cannabis Stores website.