Just seeing the words “retail cannabis license policy directive” is enough to cause some confusion, yet, if you run a cannabis store in BC, or are thinking of starting one, its critical for owners to know how to find cannabis license policies and other important information. Thankfully, BC Liquor & Cannabis Regulation Branch (BCLCRB) has done a good job of organizing the information you need.
The following policy directives are recent, but policies are always changing. We have summarized them below for convenience and discussion only. We recommend you refer to the BCLCRB website for the latest cannabis licensing and policy updates. See “Stay Current with Retail Cannabis License Policy Updates” below for BCLCRB links you can bookmark.
Before COVID-19, non-medical cannabis retailers were not permitted to sell cannabis online. Retail cannabis policy directive 20-22 allows retail cannabis licensees to sell through an online system, or by telephone, to be picked up in store. The product cannot be shipped directly to the purchaser. The online system can be administered by the licensee or third-party on behalf of the licensee. The system must include age verification.
The policy update explanation states that “…online sales will support the legal industry by opening new sales channels and provide increased convenience for customers”. This statement hints at a possibility that online stores may remain in place once the pandemic is over. We hope!
Retail cannabis policy directive 20-04 also allows non-medical cannabis licensee customers to reserve cannabis products online, or by telephone, for payment and pickup in store.
Policy directive 20-22 also changes the policy on gift cards. Prior to the policy update, pre-paid purchase gift cards that can be used to purchase cannabis, cannabis accessories and shopping bags, could only be used in the store where purchased. The new policy allows gift cards to be used at any of the licensee’s stores or online system.
But licensees still need to be aware that gift cards are not permitted to be donated for any reason. So often used as a form of marketing by liquor licensed establishments, this rule does not cross over for cannabis licensees.
When non-medical retail cannabis licenses were first rolled out, one rule that irked store owners and some municipalities was that storefront windows and walls could not be transparent. In other words, customers could not see into the store. This caused a lot of frustration because it made it difficult to market a business that looked like it was closed, or perhaps under construction. Additionally, from a staff security perspective with no sightlines into a store, if something was wrong, passersby could not see in or assist if needed. Business owners found themselves in a catch-22, because some municipalities disallow opaque windows. If cannabis retailers complied with the provincial regulations, they’d be breaking municipal laws and vice-versa.
Policy directive 20-15 amends this rule so that transparent windows/walls are allowed, although product, packaging and labels must not be visible from outside the store.
Since the first days of non-medical retail cannabis licenses in BC, the BCLCRB website had stated that a mandatory worker training program for licensees, managers and store staff would be coming. The program, Selling It Right was finally launched in the summer of 2020. In June, directive 20-14 was issued making the training mandatory going forward. Current licensees and their staff were given until September 30, 2020 to successfully complete the training.
Because policies are updated frequently, it’s important to keep up with the latest updates.
Engaging with Thrive Liquor & Cannabis Advisors makes starting and running a cannabis business much easier than doing it on your own. We’ll help you understand what’s needed and do the busy work of applying for a retail cannabis license, helping you set up your store, and running a successful business. We take your pain; you see the gain!Book a Free 30-Minute Consultation!