VANCOUVER — British Columbia has signed agreements with licensed producers to supply recreational marijuana after legalization this fall, and boasts its stash will feature an "exclusive and competitive" assortment of pot products.
The Liquor Distribution Branch, which will be the only wholesaler of cannabis in the province, has entered into memorandums of understanding with 31 producers that responded to its request for information process.
The branch says in a news release the agreements ensure an array of products featuring more than 150 strains, ranging in quality from value-oriented to ultra-premium, sold at competitive prices.
It says it has also secured a range of marijuana accessories for retail sale in BC Cannabis Stores, and licensed private retailers will be able to access the product line via the branch's online sales portal.
The initial assortment includes products from 12 B.C.-based producers but the branch says it expects to issue a call for more producers shortly after legalization and will continually expand its purchasing as demand increases.
The branch also announced it has secured a location for its first provincial marijuana store in a Kamloops shopping centre, saying the decision was based on the municipality's readiness for zoning pot shops.
The branch will apply for municipal approval of the store site when the City of Kamloops begins accepting applications for the retail outlets in September, it said.
Kamloops Mayor Ken Christian welcomed the announcement in the branch news release.
"Kamloops City Council supports the work of the provincial government as it maps out the future retail cannabis landscape in B.C.," he said.
"Their mixed model for cannabis sales, allowing both public and private retail, has many benefits to B.C. communities. The proposal, like all applications, will require the city's approval before it will operate."
The store will be staffed by about 20 employees, including managers and cannabis consultants, the branch said, adding all staff receive extensive training on safety and responsible adult use, product knowledge and customer service.
It said it's considering a number of locations across municipalities for BC Cannabis Stores.
Details of the process for private retailers to register with the branch will be released at a later date.
Blain Lawson, the branch's general manager and CEO, said he's thrilled to reach this "significant milestone" of developing a wholesale assortment of products.
"The volume, variety and quality of our product assortment speak to the LDB's commitment to working towards eliminating the illicit market."