Recreational cannabis now legalized but harder to find in Oliver

Recreational cannabis now legalized but harder to find in Oliver

Recreation cannabis may now be legal in Canada but for users in Oliver, it's harder to obtain. The Canna Cabana, Oliver's only medical marijuana dispensary, has stopped selling THC products until it obtains provincial licensing. Here, Hesse Wayne of Penticton celebrates legalization in Oliver on Oct. 17. (Vanessa Broadbent photo)

By Vanessa Broadbent

Oliver Chronicle

Although recreational cannabis is now legal in Canada, accessibility decreased for users in Oliver on October 17.

Canna Cabana, the only medical dispensary operating in the Oliver area, pulled all THC products from its shelves until provincial licensing is obtained.

The store will still remain open to sell CBD products, but anyone wanting to buy marijuana is out of luck.

“It was a voluntary shut down so it didn’t hurt our chances of getting our provincial application,” said Blayne Poirier, one of the store’s owners.

The decision is one that many dispensaries in B.C. are making following new laws that require every shop to obtain both municipal and provincial licensing.

A sign outside Oliver Eats Ltd. on Station Street commemorates the legalization of recreational cannabis on October 17. (Vanessa Broadbent photo)

Poirier said he has applied for licensing for the Canna Cabana, and now simply has to wait.

The dispensary, located south of Oliver on Highway 97, is outside of Town limits and on regional district land, but within Town of Oliver limits, dispensaries will need municipal approval.

Town of Oliver corporate office Diane Vaykovich said no applications have been received for any dispensaries in the Town of Oliver as of yet.

“Oliver Council is confident that the Province of British Columbia will do their due diligence in vetting potential retail cannabis dispensary licences before (they are) sent to Town for comment,” she said.

Earlier this year, council decided that dispensaries will only be allowed in Oliver’s town centre and C2 (highway commercial) zone.

Read more: Town reviews cannabis application fees

Until licensing is granted, local cannabis users are left with two options if they want to obtain it legally: order it online from the provincially-operated BC Cannabis Stores website, or visit the sole physical location in Kamloops.

With higher prices and added shipping fees, Poirier said most of his customers don’t like either option.

“A lot of people don’t want to have to order from the government,” he said. “They want to come to a place where they’re comfortable and know the products are good and reliable and safe.”

The Canna Cabana, the Oliver area’s only medical cannabis dispensary, has pulled all THC products from its shelves until it obtains provincial funding. (Vanessa Broadbent photo)

When the Canna Cabana obtains its licensing and reopens, it will offer recreational cannabis as well.

However, under the new Cannabis Act it won’t be able to sell any edible THC products or concentrates, leaving customers with only one option: smoking.

Poirier said the ruling “doesn’t make sense” because many medical users prefer not to smoke and would rather ingest cannabis orally.

“Taking two thirds of the products off our shelves, which are lab-tested and marked with accurate dosage, is basically pushing that all back underground and creating a black market for two thirds of the industry.”

Although it’s unclear when the dispensary will be able to sell THC products again, and which products will be allowed on shelves, Poirier is looking forward to operating under the Cannabis Act.

“It just takes a lot of stress coming out of the grey area and coming into a legalized area.”