The BC Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB) has updated its regulations to allow cannabis retail store licensees and their employees to accept samples from a federal licence holder.
These changes will apply to Cannabis Retail Stores (CRS) and Producer Retail Stores (PRS ie farmgate).
A sample can not be used for any type of inducement. The LCRB has no limit on the size of a cannabis sample, but notes that samples are expected to be “of reasonable size and quantity and should have little retail value”. The retailer must provide a “nominal fee” for the sample.
A representative with BCs Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General says that while a the nominal fee/value is not defined in legislation or regulation, the amount can be negotiated between the licensees. An example of a nominal fee could be $2, says the representative.
Although retailers are not allowed to supply cannabis samples to other cannabis licensees, the LCRB says they are exploring this possibility in the future, along with allowing all marketing licensees to accept and provide samples to other licensees.
The change is based on industry feedback. Earlier this year, BC confirmed they were engaging industry on the issue.
Randy Rowe, the owner of the Grow Up industry conference, taking place October 1-3 in Victoria BC, says he was one who worked closely with the BC government to push for these changes. Grow Up’s Victoria event has been structured to allow for samples, which will be carefully tracked.
“This is a game changer for brands in BC,” says Rowe. “Being able to get in front of retailers gives producers a stronger opportunity to educate retailers on their product. For cannabis events like ours, this gives us the opportunity to bring a large number of retailers and brands together to be able to provide samples.”
CRS and PRS licensees will be required to keep records relating to cannabis samples that contain the following information (handbook section 3.4.17):
a) the unique excise tax identifier from the original packaging of the cannabis sample;
b) the date the licensee received the cannabis sample;
c) the federal licence holder and name of the representative that provided the cannabis sample;
d) the nominal purchase amount that the licensee paid for the cannabis sample; and
e) the amount or quantity of cannabis sample received.
Some other provinces allowed such samples from the beginning of legalization, like Ontario and Saskatchewan, while Alberta recently began allowing them this past March.
Earlier this year, a spokesperson for the Cannabis Cultivators of BC, representing a handful of producers, told Stratcann that 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), told StratCann her organization has been lobbying the BC government to make such changes, as well.
“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.”