The BC government is reviewing its rules about cannabis sampling between producers and retailer stores.
While some provinces allow cannabis producers to provide product samples to retailers, others say BC is lagging behind.
Provincial regulations in BC currently prevent producers from providing such samples. A representative with the province’s Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General—the agency that oversees the cannabis file—tells StratCann that the ministry is currently reviewing the rules about cannabis sampling between licensees, such as federal producers and provincial licensees.
Some other provinces allowed such samples from the beginning of legalization, like Ontario and Saskatchewan, while Alberta recently began allowing them earlier this year.
A spokesperson for the Cannabis Cultivators of BC, representing a handful of producers, says its members would love to see the province create an accessible cannabis sampling program. This would allow producers to inform retailers of what is already on the market and what is coming soon.
“Allowing cannabis sampling gives retailers the ability to touch, see, and feel the products they plan on bringing into their stores, increasing transparency in the process and instilling confidence in what they recommend to their consumers.
“Items for consideration could include making sampling available for products prior to provincial launch by BCLDB and allowing producers to distribute samples directly from their own facilities: aspects which would help our sector improve speed, remove administrative burden, and remain responsive to changing consumer and retailer needs.”
Jaclynn Pehota, the executive director of the Retail Cannabis Council of BC (RCCBC), says it has been lobbying the BC government to make such changes.
“Product sampling is critical to making informed wholesale purchasing decisions for licensed retailers. Sampling is also an important sales tool for producers,” Pehota tells StratCann. “RCCBC made a formal recommendation in April 2023 that representative samples of any cannabis product in the market should be allowed on a B2B basis in BC.”
“RCCBC has expressed to our partners in government that members are eager to see sampling implemented,” she adds. “The delay with implementation of sampling is obviously disappointing, but we are actively encouraging our regulators to take action to align BC with other Canadian markets that have already taken this important step.”
Pehota says she would also like to see producers able to ensure any such allowances are not adding additional paperwork requirements.
Jeff Guignard, Executive Director at Alliance of Beverage Licensees (ABLE BC), which recently launched its cannabis division to represent industry concerns, says it’s high time BC made such changes, especially since this is allowed in some other provinces.
“Sampling products in this industry has been part of the culture for generations, so we should be encouraging that activity in a legally licensed framework,” says Guignard. “I absolutely think that being able to provide samples to retailers in a responsible manner is a natural evolution for the industry. It’s allowed in other provinces. It’s time for BC to catch up.”
BC has yet to provide a timeline on when they will make any decisions on whether or not to allow sampling. The province recently announced they were seeking industry feedback on removing provincial rules on promoting locations for cannabis consumption and allowing cannabis consumption on patios. That feedback period is open until August 11.