The University of British Columbia is set to be the first college in Canada to host a cannabis dispensary with the recent approval of a Burb retail store to open at the campus. The new location will be the eighth licensed cannabis retailer in British Columbia for Burb Cannabis Corp., bringing the company to the regulatory limit on the number of recreational dispensaries that can be operated in the province by one licensee.
Burb is an international cannabis brand with a stated mission of bringing British Columbia’s “BC Bud” culture to the world through a network of retail shops, cannabis products, apparel, and accessories. The company also owns and produces the podcast Light Culture hosted by David Hershkovits, the co-founder and former editor-in-chief of Paper Magazine.
Burb’s dispensary planned for the University of British Columbia, which actually sits just off campus, was approved by the Metro Vancouver Regional District (MVRD) Board of Directors, the local governing body for the area surrounding the university. The approval came despite vocal opposition from members of the local community, which included an online petition that garnered nearly 1,900 signatures.
“This was a big victory for us after a contentious debate around public safety and community fit,” John Kaye, CEO and co-founder at Burb, said in a statement from the company. “Despite concerns grounded in age-old stigma from nearby residents, many of whom were off-shore residential owners, the Board made an informed decision that aligned with the overwhelming voice of the student body as well as the tenets of legalization in our country. We’re beyond excited to bring Burb to campus and provide safe access to students and residents this fall.”
Neighbors Opposed Plan for Campus Dispensary
Neighbors opposed to locating the dispensary near the campus argued that the store would be too close to a nearby high school and two elementary schools and launched a campaign to oppose approval of the shop. An online petition posted by local resident Connie Chen suggested the store would attract people to the area for purposes “unrelated to the university,” according to a report from CBC News.
“By allowing cannabis retail to exist in this business plaza, we are putting vulnerable children at a high risk of exposure to substances they are too young for,” the petition stated.
The proposed cannabis shop was supported by the university’s Alma Mater Society (AMS)‚ the organization representing more than 56,000 students on campus. A competing online petition in favor of the dispensary posted online by Sean Safaei, who is with Burb, received more than 2,000 signatures.
“Since the AMS was in support of the project right from the beginning, it’s definitely good news for the students,” AMS president Eshana Bhangu said of the application approval.
“We just think the UBC student body really deserves to have a safe space nearby where purchasing cannabis is accessible and provided in a stress-free environment,” she added.
Bhangu noted that without the dispensary located nearby, students at the university would have to walk or take a bus more than 2.5 kilometers (slightly more than 1.5 miles) to the nearest cannabis retailer. The only other option would be to buy from illicit dealers.
“Locations like these really do reduce illegal activity and we don’t think that this is going to have any risk to families and underage youth,” said Bhangu.
Burb maintains the new dispensary will not only be the first to be located at a Canadian college campus, but the first in the world, as well. With the company reaching the maximum number of stores allowed in British Columbia, Burb is looking outside the province to continue its growth. A recent expansion to the United States marked the premiere of the British Columbia cannabis strains Beaver Tail, Butter Tarts, and Zyrup to the California market.
“We are west coast OG and breathe the rich history of BC Bud into all extensions of our brand,” said Kaye. “British Columbia has gained worldwide notoriety for breeding and cultivating premium, award-winning craft cannabis strains. We’re honored to bring this legacy, experience and passion to California through careful curation and proprietary innovation.”
Burb Expanding Into U.S. Markets
In May, the company announced its expansion in California’s competitive adult-use cannabis wholesale market, with Burb’s products gaining exposure on dispensary shelves at retailers including Cookies, Dr. Greenthumb, The Pottery, and Mainstage. The company also has plans to expand into Florida’s growing medical cannabis economy.
“We’re delighted to partner with TRP, the wholesale division of Cookies Retail Group, to bring our Los Angeles grown premium flower products to the state of California and look forward to launching in the state of Florida this fall exclusively through Cookies retail stores,” said Kaye.
The Burb brand is under license to TRP for both California and Florida and is working with Los Angeles-based cultivation partner Green Label, headed by Jason McKnight, to provide premium indoor flower supply for the brand.
“We’re innovating with Jason, working with amazing genetics providers and doing our best to bring the flavors we know and love to the California market,” said Kaye.