Cannabis retailer Penticton welcomes extended opening hours

A Penticton cannabis retailer welcomes the city council’s surprise decision on Tuesday to accelerate the expansion of operating hours to 11 p.m.

“I think it’s a fantastic move,” said Ryan Graham, general manager of Bluewater Cannabis.

“Given COVID-19 and the global pandemic, our city council and employees in other industries have been phenomenal trying to give them the tools to succeed. We have seen fewer hours of operation than any other British Columbia community. With the increased hours we are now on par with the rest of the province, ”said Graham.

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In a unanimous decision, the city council approved a motion to extend closing times from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m., giving business owners three additional late night sales opportunities.

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The discussion arose after city officials came up with a plan to review the city’s policy on cannabis retail stores two years after it was first implemented.

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It will take a month to review the guidelines, but city councils did not want to delay a vote on extending cannabis retail opening hours.

“I have long wondered why we have different opening times for cannabis stores compared to liquor stores. And cannabis is a legal product, just like liquor, as it is controlled by the same industry. So it makes perfect sense to have the same hours of operation, ”said Alderman Julius Bloomfield.

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Mayor John Vassilaki said that while he no longer advocates cannabis deals in Penticton, he does support longer business hours for existing businesses.

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“Because of COVID-19, why aren’t we giving merchants the opportunity to add a little bit of economic value over the next two months when they have the opportunity to bring additional people into their stores?”

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Councilor Campbell Watt said the government shouldn’t regulate private companies.

“I think this is a legitimate business, it should be fully opened with no restrictions or caps, and survival of the fittest should be the way this goes on like any other business,” he said.

Councilor Judy Sentes said extending cannabis stores’ opening hours will help small business owners recover amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As we see some light at the end of this pandemic tunnel, our companies are struggling to get back on their feet and I think a two month wait can be significant so I would be very supportive of extending their hours,” she said .

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Graham said speeding up the voting would be a critical win for cannabis retailers.

“Giving us the few extra hours is essential so that we can now pursue tourism and the hospitality industry,” he said.

“We’re missing out on such a large piece of the cake for our hospitality industry. These workers, tourists, who are Okanagan, are on the beach, they have dinner late, so for us, who have to close at 8 p.m., we lack this demographic development. “

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Seven private stores and one UK government-run store have opened in Penticton since non-medical cannabis was legalized in October 2018.

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Blake Laven, director of development services, said the complaints were minimal.

“There has been minimal public opposition or complaint about these locations, as well as our bylaws department and RCMP, licensed retail outlets, very limited concerns from these organizations,” he said.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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