Despite the legalization of cannabis on Oct. 17, 2018, getting private recreational stores up and running in Kelowna has been a slow process.
After the legalization of marijuana across the country, the City of Kelowna received 41 applications for retail cannabis stores. The city then approved 15 prospective weed retailers in early February.
But, it took over nine months for Hobo Recreational Cannabis to fully open its doors, becoming the first legal recreational pot shop in Kelowna. Hobo is still the only marijuana retailer in the city.
Just two days later, on July 27, Starbuds opened its doors in Lake Country, making it the first legal retail cannabis store in that municipality.
Meanwhile, stores on First Nations land operated under their own rules, despite the disagreement of the federal and provincial governments. Indeed, a stretch of Westside Road became known as “The Green Mile.”
All Nations Cannabis, formerly known as Indigenous Bloom, opened its doors in January on Okanagan Indian Band land – without a provincial licence.
In April, West Kelowna gave first and second reading to zoning amendments for five proposed locations, none of which are currently open. In July, a judge granted the city an injunction to shut down two cannabis dispensaries that were operating from 2015 to 2017 before legalization. Licences that had been previously issued by the city were not renewed in late 2017.
Spiritleaf will be West Kelowna’s first legal recreational cannabis store. Management were aiming to open the doors by year’s end.
“We hope to have it open by Boxing Day, pending construction and inspection,” says Michael Adams, owner of Spiritleaf.
With the slow start, many Kelowna residents are wondering when other pot shops will open.
The city approved The Grasshopper Cannabis Inc. in downtown Kelowna, usurping its own bylaws, which state cannabis retailers must be 500 metres from each other, 150 metres from parks and elementary schools, and 500 metres from middle and secondary schools.
There is already a store that is set to open on Bernard Avenue, just 263 metres away from the proposed second downtown location.
Rutland may be home to the first government-run BC Cannabis Store in the area after the province put forth a formal application in November. That application has yet to hit the council table.
There are currently eight BC Cannabis Stores operating in the province, with eight others opening soon, including a government store in Penticton.
Pot edibles were legalized on Oct. 17 across Canada, but they’ve yet to become available to consumers. While the proposed date for edible sales was mid-December, most pot shops are signalling that early 2020 is more realistic.
Also, CBD-infused liquor may be available for purchase early next month as well.