B.C. Allows Cannabis Retailers to Sell Broader Range of Items

Private licensed cannabis retail stores in B.C. will soon be allowed to sell cannabis-related clothing, books and other items. This is welcome news for the legal cannabis sector as private licensees will be able to provide customers with a broader range of items.

The Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch of British Columbia announced Policy Directive No. 21-22 (the “Policy”) on November 26, 2021 which now allows private cannabis retail stores (“CRSs”) to sell “cannabis-related items.”

The Policy is designed to provide CRSs with additional revenue streams and improve the competitiveness of legal operators with the goal of drawing business away from illegal cannabis stores and organized crime.

Prior to the new Policy, CRSs could only sell cannabis, cannabis accessories (items used in direct and indirect consumption of cannabis, e.g. pipes, lighters and rolling papers), shopping bags and prepaid purchase cards. Effective November 26, 2021, CRSs are allowed to sell additional cannabis-related items, which the CRS Licence Terms and Conditions Handbook defines as “things that have a clear link to cannabis, such as books about cannabis, apparel or artwork featuring cannabis motifs, but are not used in direct or indirect consumption of cannabis and are not consumable (such as food, beverages (including liquor), tobacco, etc.).” Cannabis-related items may include those that display a brand element of cannabis, a cannabis accessory or a service related to cannabis.

While the Policy does not provide further guidance on what constitutes a “clear link to cannabis” it includes a more detailed description of items that CRSs are not permitted to sell. These restrictions remain in place to help prevent unsafe activities and ensure that cannabis use by minors is not promoted or supported. To those ends, CRSs are not authorized to sell:

  • Items that are consumable (e.g. food, tobacco and beverages, including liquor).
  • Any cannabis-related items that promote cannabis, cannabis accessories or cannabis services:
    • by communicating information about its price or distribution;
    • in a manner that could be appealing to young persons;
    • by means of a testimonial or endorsement;
    • by depicting a person, character or animal, whether real or fictional; or
    • by presenting it in a manner that evokes an emotion or image of a life that includes glamour, recreation, excitement, vitality, risk or daring.
  • Any cannabis-related item that promotes cannabis or cannabis accessories in a manner that is false or misleading.
  • Branded items that are associated with young persons, appealing to young persons or associated with a way of life such as one that includes glamour, recreation, excitement vitality, risk or daring.
  • Liquor, tobacco and organic solvents.

Four other provinces and the Northwest Territories already have similar regulations in place allowing for the sale of cannabis-related items at CRSs.

Retailers navigating what these changes mean for their business should contact a member of the MLT Aikins cannabis law team.

Note: This article is of a general nature only and is not exhaustive of all possible legal rights or remedies. In addition, laws may change over time and should be interpreted only in the context of particular circumstances such that these materials are not intended to be relied upon or taken as legal advice or opinion. Readers should consult a legal professional for specific advice in any particular situation.