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Province, federal government lift smoke screen window requirements for cannabis stores

The frosted, smoky windows that prevent you from seeing into cannabis stores are no longer a requirement for safety reasons.

That’s according to changes announced Friday by the province. They say the “lack of visibility into licensed or authorized cannabis stores is putting cannabis store operators, staff and patrons at risk.”

“Removing the requirement of the [Cannabis Licensing Regulation] will improve the visibility into cannabis stores and increase safety for store operators, staff and patrons.”

The change is being welcomed by Coast Range Cannabis, who have stores in both Comox and Courtenay. Owner Sheila Rivers says while the covered windows were not so much of a concern a few years ago, it is a good time to remove the regulation.

“We opened fairly close to legalization, about a year after in 2019. It’s new, so people are being cautious, and they are a bit worried about the stigma,” said Rivers.

“At the same time, those windows do perpetuate stigma. We want the light to be let in, we want people to be able to come in here, normalize cannabis, make sure that stigma went away as quickly as possible.”

When it comes to safety concerns, Rivers says it is a good reason to remove the coverings and prevent negative interactions from happening.

“You can’t see what’s going on from the outside, the only people that can see what happens in terms of negative customer interactions are the staff that are working,” said Rivers.

“We want to make sure that it’s stopped right at the beginning, we can see who is coming in, people from the outside can see interactions that are happening.”

Rivers adds the stigma reduction that could come with the removal of the window coverings will help bring a closer community connection.

“We don’t want to have these windows up that are really stating that ‘hey, maybe there’s something going on here that’s a little shady,’” said Rivers.

The province adds that display rules will stay in place with window displays still not allowed, along with the display of products outside the stores.

Rivers adds they will be adjusting the windows for their Comox location but are waiting for confirmation from Courtenay’s Bylaw and Planning.

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