Of the four retail cannabis slots in town, half are now reserved as Merritt’s city council put their stamp of approval on two applications.

Both Hive Cannabis and Quilchena Cannabis Company were given the green light from council at a regular meeting on Feb. 26. The two companies now await their licenses from the provincial government.

The city was originally going to wait until B.C.’s retail cannabis licensing body gave their approval.

They have since decided to sign off on the applications first, since learning that the province’s recommendations will not reveal anything new about the applications.

“It has become apparent that there isn’t really any value in the city waiting,” said Sean Smith, the city’s director of corporate services.

Taking care of the municipal approval may not speed the process along substantially, Smith said, but puts the ball entirely in the privince’s court.

“With how long the applicants have waited I think it is fair that we do what we can to support the businesses,” he said.

The city received four submissions after putting out a call for feedback on the propsed shops from the public.

One response was positive and three were negative, but all spoke to retail cannabis in general, and were not specific to the location in question: Quilchena Cannabis Company at 1937 Quilchena Avenue and Hive Cannabis at 2040 Nicola Avenue.

While council unanimously gave their final approval of both locations at the Feb. 26 meeting, Coun. Kurt Christopherson said he couldn’t proceed without expressing his reluctance.

“As a rabid non-smoker and person who has family with alcohol problems and so on, it absolutely kills me to recognize that this is a fact of life now and that we really don’t have much choice in how it is done now,” he said.

“I hate smoking in any form because it is bad for you and I have a great deal of sympathy for people with alcohol and drug problems that is beyond them. I have to support it but I do it grudgingly.”