A recreational-cannabis store poised to open in Langford this year is the latest link in a chain of Clarity Cannabis outlets founded by a Victoria pharmacist.
Michael Forbes has already launched three stores in Alberta, with another 26 awaiting construction and regulation approvals in that province.
He plans to open seven in B.C. and one in Saskatchewan.
In addition to the Langford outlet, Forbes said he intends to open stores in Cranbrook, Dawson Creek, Kamloops, Prince Rupert and two in Victoria.
“As a licensed and practising pharmacist, I find a lot of crossover in terms of retailing cannabis and pharmaceuticals in terms of ensuring customer safety and treating everyone with compassion and fairness,” Forbes said in an email to the Times Colonist.
“My son goes to school in Langford, so I wanted to ensure that I set the bar high when it comes to retailing cannabis to the public so that it does not get into the wrong hands.”
Langford council served notice Monday that it plans to issue a temporary-use permit allowing Forbes’ Clarity Cannabis B.C. Ltd. to open a store at 693 Hoffman Ave., behind the West Shore RCMP detachment.
Langford Mayor Stew Young said the permit will come back to council for final approval in two weeks.
If given the green light, the Clarity Cannabis store likely will be the first legal recreational cannabis store on southern Vancouver Island.
Forbes, who lives in Langford, said he hopes to open the 2,000-square-foot store in two months and employ about 10 people.
“Langford will be a beautiful store,” he said. “I have hired an award-winning designer to create a very classy and esthetically appealing vibe.”
The city issued a request for proposals from cannabis retail applicants last year and selected five to proceed. Clarity Cannabis is the first to receive the necessary provincial approvals following a security-screening process.
Young said Langford secured voluntary financial commitments from each of the applicants and plans to use the money for policing and educating the public about the risks and age restrictions around marijuana use.
“It wasn’t mandatory,” he said. “It was just saying: ‘Hey, if I give you the temporary-use permit, what benefit is it to my community?’ And I did not want any costs to the local taxpayers.”
Young declined to say how much money the applicants promised to Langford on an ongoing basis.
“I can’t tell you exactly because that will be a contractual obligation that they have with us and confidentiality based on each individual,” he said.
“But I will tell you I have enough for two officers and some money for education every year, so there’s no cost to the taxpayers.”
Young said the money will be used to pay for one police officer and one bylaw officer to handle any associated issues and help educate the public. “We’re happy, I can tell you, with the applications that came forward. It actually took the risk and it took the costs from the taxpayer and put it on the business owner to help the city manage the new costs that may arise from this.”
Young said Langford decided to issue temporary-use permits for cannabis stores so it’s easier to shut them down if problems arise.
“We can pull the permit within five minutes if they start doing illegal activity,” he said. “So it just makes everybody play level and equal in the sandbox, right?”
The permits will be valid for up to three years and can be extended for another three. After that, council would require a new application.
Once the five stores are up and running, Young said council can reassess whether it wants to approve additional outlets.
“There’s eight liquor stores in Langford with a licence, so we figured five for pot was a reasonable number,” he said. “I really don’t believe that we need 10 pot stores in Langford and one on every street corner.”