Cannabis is officially legal across Canada on Oct. 17, 2018. (Northern View file photo)

Cannabis is officially legal across Canada on Oct. 17, 2018. (Northern View file photo)

Cannabis is legal, what does that mean in Prince Rupert

A review of the city’s new bylaw, the province’s online sales, what can be grown, and what not to do

Canada is the second country in the world to legalize marijuana but what exactly does that look like in Prince Rupert?

As of Wednesday, Oct. 17, B.C. residents 19 years and older will be able to purchase non-medical cannabis through the provincially-run website and at one cannabis store in Kamloops.

Despite the many compassion clinics and pot shops, the B.C. Cannabis Store serving the Interior is the only one that has successfully gone through the process to legally obtain a licence to sell, through both the provincial and the municipal system.

Prince Rupert doesn’t have a cannabis store, yet. The city is working the kinks out of a new bylaw that would allow a business to sell weed downtown and into Cow Bay — but no more than 75 metres apart from another cannabis shop.

The government itself could set up a cannabis retail store, much like it did in Kamloops, but there’s no sign of that yet.

READ MORE: Mayor of Kamloops says ‘history has been made’ with vote on B.C.’s lone pot shop

If an entrepreneur was considering to open a store, they would have to first apply to the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB), which includes $7,500 for the initial licence fee. If approved, the province will then refer the business to the City of Prince Rupert. The initial municipal application will cost $5,000, $500 of which is non-refundable if the application is unsuccessful, and there is an annual $2,500 fee to the city.

A successful applicant will purchase its cannabis from the provincial wholesaler — the Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB). The LDB will sell only lab-tested products from licenced producers, meaning the product should be pesticide and mould free.

Some North Coast residents have already started the process of obtaining a cannabis licence from the province. But since the city only just introduced the new bylaw, the municipal election is on Oct. 20, and the public information session isn’t set until Nov. 13 at Coast Mountain College, setting up a shop will likely take weeks, if not months.

Online orders

While marijuana business hopefuls, both private and public, go through the regulatory process, Canada Post has entered a contract with the LDB. Residents 19 years and older can purchase through B.C.’s online site for a $10 shipping fee. In a press release, the province said its distribution centre will ship orders within 48 business hours.

To ensure minors aren’t ordering the product online, Canada Post will ask for ID if the customer looks under the age of 25. Failing the check, the product will be returned to the LDB, and the cost will be refunded.

The Kamloops store will serve as an example of what other B.C. Cannabis Stores will looks like. There will be 24 cannabis consultants on hand, and 85 dried-flower strains of cannabis, a selection of oils, capsules and pre-rolls approved by Health Canada, the press release stated.

Cannabis scene in Prince Rupert

In Prince Rupert, some have wondered if the Coastal Haze shop on Third Avenue West, with it’s blocked off windows and 19-plus only sign, is going to be future cannabis store. At this point, it’s only selling pipes and bongs.

There was interest in November 2016 to set up a physician-based medical marijuana clinic in Prince Rupert that would serve the North Coast region all the way to Haida Gwaii. Last week, the Medicinal Cannabis Resource Centre Inc. (MCRCI) said: “We shifted our focus to the East Coast as we saw a greater need for our service out there for the time being. We are continually looking to expand but at the current moment our sights on Prince Rupert are on hold.”

READ MORE: Medical marijuana clinic sets its sights on a Rupert office

In February 2018, Metlakatla Development Corporation received a $10,000 grant from the province to conduct preliminary investigations into the feasibility of producing and providing cannabis to the market. But at the moment Metlakatla First Nation said there is no update on the study and where it’s going.

READ MORE: Metlakatla gets government grant to explore cannabis business

What is and isn’t allowed

Despite legalization, marijuana edibles won’t be for sale, legally, for the next 12 months.

Patrons won’t be allowed to consume cannabis at licenced stores. Adults can possess up to 30 grams in a public place but they won’t be able to smoke or vape in areas where cigarette smoking is prohibited, including at the playground, sports fields and other popular area for kids.

Residents can grow up to four plants as long as they’re not visible to the public and it’s not in a home with a daycare.

Drivers should also be aware that there is a new 90-day Administrative Driving Prohibition (ADP) if the police believe a driver operated the vehicle while under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. This will be based on being evaluated by a trained police drug recognition expert.

Cannabis Control and Licensing Act also introduces provincial cannabis offences, with fines ranging from $2,000 to $100,000, and/or imprisonment of three to 12 months.

For more information on the new laws and regulations visit ( . 

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