Mayor expresses legalization benefits for city

Kamloops mayor concerned over cannabis business licence controversy

As the cannabis legalization date approaches, set for Oct. 17, the mayor of Kamloops, Ken Christian, shared his thoughts on how the legalization will benefit the city and its effect on local cannabis dispensaries and other businesses. Admittedly, he is concerned over the controversy of the recent business license fee for cannabis retailers.

“We’ve got a lot of issues going on in our business license department,” he said. “We are starting to charge business license fees of $5000 per business, one of the highest licensing fees in Kamloops, comparable to escort services.”

For Christian, his approach to the legalization is to prepare as best he can for the date and negotiate a fair share of municipal cannabis taxation.

“It’s something I mentioned to the Premier last week, we have been spending money like crazy regarding zoning changes, policing and medical health officers talking to youth about cannabis awareness,” he said. “The bigger issue is the share of cannabis taxation, so if you go to a dispensary on the 17th to buy a gram for $10, about six dollars of that will be taxation and I want a part of that six dollars.”

A joint study conducted by three researchers at the University of Connecticut and Georgia State University, using alcohol sales data from 2006-2015, showed a 15 percent reduction in monthly alcohol sales in medical marijuana states. Christian is sure a similar phenomenon will arise here in British Columbia.

“To this point, the liquor industry has not woken up to the fact that they are going to be in direct competition with the cannabis industry,” he said. “It’s not the ‘Budweisers’ of the world; it’s the craft breweries, they’re the ones who will be looking at that niche market.”

Despite the initiative to release new cannabis products, there are still legal limitations. Christian contrasts our current marijuana market to ones in Europe.

“Many are looking at cannabis-infused products, but right now the law is only around leaf tobacco, it excludes edibles and CBD oils which are illegal right now,” he said.

“I was recently in the Czech Republic and here in Kamloops we talk about having separate zones, however, if you go to a convenience store over there you can find a CBD kind of beer,” he added. “It’s much like an energy drink; everybody seems to be drinking it on every street corner.”

Christian acknowledges the possibility of seeing a similar reality here in Kamloops.