With home cultivation of up to four marijuana plants legal as of Oct. 17, communities will have to deal with the hazards of indoor growing. (Black Press files)

B.C. waits to add ‘craft cannabis’ to its retail system

Wholesaler confident 15% markup will eliminate black market

B.C.’s Liquor Distribution Branch has made its second product call for licensed marijuana growers, adding to the 150 cannabis types it signed up in July to prepare for provincial stores to open in October.

Applications from federally licensed producers of dried cannabis, oils, capsules and seed are being accepted until the end of August, to add to the accepted products from large producers that will stock both private and LDB stores in B.C.

The government wholesaler says it is looking forward to adding smaller “craft cannabis” suppliers, once they get “micro-cultivation and micro-processing licensing.” That’s expected some time before the end of 2018.

RELATED: BC Cannabis stores start with 150 strains

With a federal excise tax of $1 a gram and federal and provincial sales taxes on top, B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth has emphasized the need to keep the legal price low enough to take the market away from B.C.’s many illicit marijuana suppliers.

LDB has settled on a 15 per cent wholesale markup for all retailers, in contrast to the markup of more than 100 per cent it imposes on bottled spirits. That markup applies to the “landed cost” of wholesale product delivered to stores, including transportation fees, taxes, packaging and handling.

“We’ve heard concerns that the LDB will impose a significant markup on legal cannabis, in the interests of making money,” said Blain Lawson, general manager of the B.C. LDB. The 15 per cent rate “reaffirms the province’s principle goal is eliminating the illicit market.”

While Farnworth is confident B.C. will be ready for legalization on Oct. 17, issues that provinces will face include indoor growing and impaired driving enforcement.

The federal government has given the nod to a German-made device for roadside saliva testing that is in use in Germany and the United Kingdom. The device detects cocaine as well as the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, and a detection reading provides grounds to take the driver for a blood test.

Police also have the option of using a standard field sobriety test, with drills such as walking a straight line.

Home growing for illicit sales is a long-standing fire hazard for communities, with unregulated wiring for high-voltage lights and ventilation. Smaller personal grows can also be a hazard, as people have been able to do with medical licences in recent years.

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