After years of campaigning to decriminalize cannabis, marijuana activist Randy Caine plans to apply for a cannabis licence for a premises next to his Langley City HEMPYZ store, once the city sorts out its approval process.
“It’s not about if, but when,” Caine, a Langley City resident, told the Langley Advance Times.
Caine, a long-time campaigner to decriminalize cannabis, did apply for a licence to sell from a shop next to his other store in Langley Township, but has since closed that shop and merged operations into the one City store.
After recreational marijuana use was legalized by the federal government in 2018, the B.C. government left it up to local governments to decide how to handle applications for legal cannabis sales.
That was a mistake, Caine believes.
“It’s way past their [local governments] skill set.”
Caine objects to the Township decision to limit the number of cannabis stores to eight because he thinks it could see the trade dominated by big chains.
“This is the poorest way to bring a new business into the community, to limit the number of players.”
Caine wants a less restrictive system that allows small locally-owned businesses like his to win licences, bringing more benefits to the community.
“We employ local people. I would be hiring local and spending local. It all stays,” Caine summed up. “I live here, I work here, I respect the community.”
He warned the slowness in approving legal cannabis stores is only encouraging the illegal drug trade, with consumers buying product from dealers instead of legitimate business.
“That disturbs me,” he commented.
“Everything that I worked on over the years was to reduce crime [by taking cannabis sales away from dealers].”
Still, things have changed dramatically, since Caine was tangling with police over selling cannabis products.
He was charged, but not convicted, of drug trafficking in July of 2011 when his legal medical marijuana dispensary in Langley City was raided by the RCMP.
The charge was dropped in June 2013 under a plea bargain where Caine pleaded guilty to less serious violations of exceeding the amount of marijuana he was allowed under his Health Canada licence and of storing it improperly, and was granted an absolute discharge on both counts.
Under Canadian law, an absolute discharge is not considered a conviction.
While he chafes at the slow pace of licensing, and what he views as regulatory mistakes, Caine knows he ended up on the winning side of the debate over legalizing cannabis.
“A win is a win is a win,” Caine remarked, smiling.
“It was easy to bet on this side.”
His plan is not to sell cannabis from the HEMPYZ store he operates on the one-way, but to convert space he leases next door.
Caine said once the Township sorts out its licensing process, he expects the City will begin to entertain applications.
“I’ll wait them out,” Caine promised. “I’m not going anywhere.”