Trees opened their fifth location on August 30. Three weeks up, and another three weeks more until cannabis is legalized, the store is about to submit their provincial licensing application and prepare for significant change. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)

Victoria cannabis dispensaries to hold massive sales before legalization

Local shops will need to clear their shelves to make room for government-issued products

Cannabis enthusiasts may have noticed a new shop in the heart of Cook Street Village. Trees opened up its fifth dispensary on Aug. 30. While it’s only been open three weeks, in another three the shop is expecting some big changes – including preparing for a massive sale of its products.

October 17 will signal the national legalization of marijuana, but that’s only the beginning for those in the business.

“There’s going to be significant change, but not just on that day,” said Trees director and general manager Alex Robb.

Cannabis legalization will not automatically give dispensaries the green light; they must still put forward provincial applications to become retail outlets for products from the British Columbia Liquor Distribution Branch (BCLDB) which will require further inspections and protocols.

READ MORE: Which B.C. marijuana stores will survive?

That, Robb said, has been a very slow process.

More than 100 applications are currently in across the province but only one dispensary, located in Kamloops, will be legally operating come Oct. 17.

“This is more on the B.C. Government, but they didn’t even know they would be governing this until way after the May election,” Robb explained. “They’ve had to create a whole bureaucracy, hire a new public company … as well as hire an entire team.”

He noted different municipalities are also only now just packaging together rules on how to accept applications for legal storefronts, adding to the backlog.

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

For Trees, however, Robb felt confident since Victoria created an application process in 2016. So, the Cook Street location is now finalizing their provincial application, which will still take months to process.

Part of the approval process will be a thorough inspection where no cannabis products are permitted on premises.

“At that point, all existing product will be cleared off the shelf, and then after the inspection, we will restock,” Robb said. “We aim to time it properly and hope to sell most of our product and then avoid the grey market and buy from the BCDLB.”

This means that as stores across the province face their inspections, store-wide sales can be expected to make profit on items that can’t be sold later.

“I do expect there will be a clearance sale,” Robb said. “But it’ll have to happen store by store because each one has an individual application.”

While no date has been set for the inspection, Robb guessed it would likely happen between January and March 2019.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com


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