Many cannabis retailers are preparing for the first day of legal marijuana sales in Canada on October 17th, but securing a business license can be costly. This is true not just for private retailers but for provincial government run stores as well. The British Columbia Liquor Distribution Branch recently confirmed that it will pay local licensing and application fees to become part of the adult-use marketplace.
Each city will decide on the amount of their licensing and application fees when it comes to marijuana dispensary businesses. British Columbia has already paid the City of Kamloops $5,000 for a cannabis business licence and a $1,600 application fee in order to set up a government-owned marijuana retail store.
While these prices may seem exorbitant in comparison to other business licenses, $196 for a liquor license, the province is willing to pay it to profit from a booming cannabis industry. The B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch will be the only wholesale distributor in the province and as such are well positioned to attract a ton of business by setting up their own retailers.
The spokeswoman for the British Columbia Liquor Distribution Branch, Vivana Zanocco, stated that, “We aren’t saying we would pay any fee. The fees charged by municipalities could be a factor in deciding where the branch will locate government stores.”
One of the biggest markets for recreational marijuana will no doubt be Vancouver but if the Liquor Distribution Branch wants to establish a storefront they’ll be faced with a $30,000 business license fee and up to $5,100 in application fees. While this might deter many private retailers, it’s doubtful that the branch will stay out of such a lucrative marketplace. Zanocco even noted that, “We wouldn’t rule out Vancouver because of its fees, because it is a big population centre.”
The City of Victoria is setting their price at $5,000 for a business license but first the city has to work on some rezoning before issuing any licenses. It’s suspected that there are up to seven storefronts currents selling without a license in Victoria, and over 20 cannabis retailers that have a cannabis business license.
Victoria City spokesman, Bill Eisenhauer, noted “We were able to get out ahead of this so we have suitable locations available when the new legislation comes into effect. What subset of those stores will get a provincial licence we don’t know.”
Some cities in British Columbia have yet to determine their licensing and application fees, but it looks like the provincial government is willing to spend money, to make money.