VICTORIA — On the day Canadians can legally buy and use recreational marijuana, the clock will start ticking for cannabis dispensaries already open across the country, say politicians and pot industry insiders.
On Oct. 17, provincial licensing, monitoring and approval regulations on legal marijuana retail standards will become law and the cannabis business will get real for marijuana shops currently operating outside the rules.
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“These are the same people who cried for legalization,” said Vancouver Coun. Kerry Jang. “Now they’ve got it, and they have to play by the rules.”
Jang, who has been at the forefront of Vancouver’s push to bring medical and recreational marijuana into the marketplace, said he doesn’t expect to see boarded up dispensaries in October, but added that some won’t survive provincial regulation.
“There’s going to be this period of transition when everybody moves to the legal system that will probably be a little Wild West. It will be a bit woolly for a while, but eventually it will all come into compliance.”
It’s unclear how many dispensaries are currently operating across the country.
Vancouver was the first to move to regulate the industry when the number of illegal shops ballooned past 100. In 2015, the city imposed strict regulations and a licence fee of almost $32,000.
Victoria started its own regulation process for dispensaries in 2016.
Terry Lake, a former British Columbia health minister, said he believes most provinces will act carefully on current dispensaries, taking graduated steps, starting with warnings to comply, then progressing to closure notices.
Lake now works as a vice-president at Hydropothecary, an Ottawa-based company looking to expand into the recreational marijuana market. He said the public’s transition from buying black-market marijuana, including from existing