Bobby Kennedy spent much of his time with lawyers and in court during the summer that was supposed to usher in Canada’s era of legal marijuana. In mid-July, the City of Kelowna had ordered him to shut down the display counter of his downtown skateboard shop, BKRY, where since winter he’d been dispensing weed gummies, brownies, dried cannabis and more. Kennedy fought to keep selling to his recreational and medicinal clients. But the B.C. Interior’s largest city was determined to push out all unregulated operators before cannabis is legalized nationwide on Oct. 17.
In Kelowna, as in much of the country, that much-anticipated day will fall far short of a new era dawning. The city, the epicentre of B.C.’s Okanagan wine region and the base for some large licensed cannabis growers, has barely begun approving rules, and is several months from being ready to pass businesses through its rezoning and permitting processes. It means Kelowna’s first legal pot stores will open not this fall but in the summer of 2019 at the earliest, says Ryan Smith, the city’s community planning manager. “The public expects us to put in place a model that is, to begin with, conservative,” he says.
The B.C. government, which has been late to the legalization game and only began taking private retail applications in August, will all but squelch Kennedy’s dream of running a hybrid shop selling skateboards and cannabis, and eventually establishing a chain of such “lifestyle cultivators.” Under provincial rules, a licensee can’t sell recreational pot as part of another business.