Editorial: Cannabis market in Powell River has new competitor

Now that a BC Cannabis Store has opened in the middle of one of Powell River’s main shopping areas, residents have another option for purchasing their marijuana, in a legal and regulated environment. It remains to be seen how the presence of the government-run store will affect other avenues cannabis users can take, including unlicensed establishments and the black market.

From a marketing standpoint, BC Cannabis has a leg up on its current competition. In addition to the fact that no laws are broken during transactions, products available in the store including dried cannabis flower, oils, capsules and pre-rolls, are all approved by Health Canada; that was hammered home in an announcement by the BC Liquor Distribution Branch last week. When edibles, extracts and topicals become available for retail sale later this year, they will also go through the same approval process.

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Can other suppliers compete on that level, ensuring their products are safe for use and free of any harmful substance that may have been added somewhere along the line? Maybe in some form, but not with the guarantee that comes with a government stamp of approval.

The safety aspect associated with BC Cannabis may ease concerns of curious potential customers looking for something to ease pain, or just to use recreationally, and prefer to make their purchase through a legal source.

On the other hand, price may be a factor for regular or longtime cannabis users, or those who have been using the same supplier for years, or even decades. A trust built up over time, along with a lower price, will keep those customers away from the new liquor-store-style government option.

If federal and provincial governments think legalizing and entering the world of cannabis sales will put a damper on the black market, the price tag on its own products might prevent that from happening. People may be too comfortable to switch, unless there is a substantial cost savings, which is not apparent at this time.

BC Cannabis will make money in Powell River, and the government will relish in the profits collected here and at the other seven locations in the province. Until a private cannabis store, currently in the application process, opens on Marine Avenue, the government-run store near Town Centre Mall is the only “legal” game in town. However, there are other leagues in which people can play.

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