Government retailer for non-medical cannabis sales

From: Blain Lawson
To: Industry Associations
Date: Monday, February 5, 2018
Subject: SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: Government retailer for non-medical cannabis sales

Valued Industry Partners,

As you may have heard, the provincial government has announced a private/public retail model for non-medical cannabis sales in BC. The LDB will be the public retailer and sole online retailer of non-medical cannabis for the province. Cannabis retail stores will be standalone stores, separate from existing liquor stores.

Private cannabis retailers will be licensed and monitored by the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch (LCLB). The rules governing non-medical cannabis retail stores will be similar to those currently in place for liquor retail stores, and public and private retailers will have similar operating rules. LCLB will be launching an application portal for individuals and businesses interested in applying for a private non-medical cannabis retail licence this spring. 

This news builds on government’s earlier announcement in December 2017 that the LDB will be the sole wholesaler and distributor of non-medical cannabis for BC.

The LDB will be using a phased-in approach to selling cannabis. We are starting to look at potential warehouse and store locations and we are in the early stages of exploring e-commerce solutions. It is our hope to have the first retail store open sometime late this summer and then offer the ability to buy cannabis online shortly after that. Our top focus will be on ensuring safe, responsible sales of non-medical cannabis and helping ensure the product stays out of the hands of minors.

The government’s decision not to co-locate cannabis sales in liquor stores was based on recommendations from the federal task Force on cannabis, which cautioned against co-locating alcohol and cannabis. It’s a position supported by B.C.’s health officers.

Now that government has provided clear direction to the LDB to move forward with cannabis distribution, we are mobilizing extremely quickly to prepare for the July 2018 date. To ensure the LDB continues to fully support its core business of alcohol distribution, we will be creating a new, separate business division for cannabis. We are in the process of looking for an Executive Director to lead this endeavor.

Our commitment to customer service and working collaboratively with our liquor industry partners remains the same; it is business-as-usual for LDB’s liquor operations. We intend to set-up a separate warehouse for cannabis distribution, so the relocation of the Vancouver Distribution Centre to its new, larger home in Delta is proceeding this summer.

While we are committed to keeping our industry partners up-to-date as this initiative progresses, there will be questions we do not have answers to at the moment – we thank you for your patience as we work through the details.

For more information, please visit: or email:

Additional details on the private retail framework, including frequently asked questions for potential applicants, are available at:

Thank you for your patience as we work through this major change for the LDB.




Blain Lawson  

CEO and General Manager

BC Liquor Distribution Branch