The province’s Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch has made several policy changes this week, some of which are effective immediately. One change relates to special event permits held in a manufacturer’s facility (such as a winery or brewery). Previous to the change, which was announced and took effect on Nov. 26, a company could apply to the Branch to allow a group to hold an event under a special event permit in a lounge endorsement area, special event area endorsement or picnic area. The former rules stated a limit of six events per year, and no selling or serving of liquor purchased under one’s license was allowed. As of now, if a company or group wishes to hold an event under a special event permit in a lounge, special event or at a picnic area, they must apply to the Branch to temporarily suspend the service area(s) under the license where the event is to be held. “When an event under a SEP is held in a manufacturer’s onsite store, the licensee is not required to temporarily suspend the service area but must only sell packaged liquor for off-site consumption for the duration of the event,” a bulletin from the LCRB explains. “During the SEP in any service area of the establishment, opened liquor, including samples, must not be sold or served. Only liquor purchased under the SEP may be served for on-site consumption.” The Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch says the previous language “is unclear as to whether manufacturers must temporarily suspend their license when an SEP event is held in an on-site endorsement area. This change clarifies that manufacturers are not required to temporarily suspend the on-site store endorsement when holding an SEP but are only permitted to sell packaged liquor for off-site consumption.” Further, the Branch says the change “provides clarity on rules surrounding liquor service for the licensee and the permit holder. It ensures there is a clear separation between the liquor purchased under the manufacturer’s licence and the liquor purchased under the SEP, which will allow enforcement to more easily determine who the responsible party is in the event of an infraction.” See also: What does cannabis legalization mean for your liquor business? Several other amendments have been made that relate to “value-added promotional items” for private retailers, and all take effect immediately. While policy previously stated retailers could only accept a value-added promotional item containing liquor (a liquor on-pack) if BC Liquor Stores have been offered the same item, the new policy that is now in effect states agents may offer value-added promotional items to private sector retailers regardless of whether that same promotion has been offered to BC Liquor Stores. The change is said to be “consistent with the effort to provide equal treatment to public and private retailers.” In the past, the LDB’s marketing department had to approve and monitor value-added promotions – and write an approval letter for the agent to provide to the retailer – but now, the agent must keep a record of the value-added promotions that are offered and be able to produce it upon request by an inspector. An approval letter from the LDB is no longer required. It was determined that a public retailer should “not have approval authority and monitoring
responsibility regarding promotions that are offered in the private retail sector.” Another change relates to calendar years: Previously, promotional items were limited to five times “per year,” now that’s per calendar year. This amendment is said to clarify “that the maximum allowance for value added promotions is based on the calendar year.” The value of promotional item allowances has also changed. Previously, policy stated a liquor or non-liquor item must not have a value greater than 20% of the retail value of the host item. Now, the item must not have a value greater than 25% of the wholesale cost of the host product. Another section of the changes “clarifies the existing policy for the individual sale of value-added items,” according to a government bulletin. Retailers must not sell a value-added item as a separate item. See also: Odds are literally stacked against B.C.’s private retail cannabis sector Another change was announced on Nov. 26, although it doesn’t take effect until Feb. 1, 2019. Currently, SEP holders are not required to sell a variety of liquor. But, as of next February, permittees holding a large public special event that is not of a charitable purpose and has 500 attendees or more must have no more than 80% by dollar value, of one manufacturer’s liquor in each liquor category (i.e., beer, cider, wine, or spirits). “There must be equal opportunity to purchase all liquor at the event (i.e.; all beer is chilled, all brands appear on signage). The SEP holder must produce a purchase receipt and product return records, if applicable, to a liquor inspector upon request,” the Branch states in its bulletin. “SEP holders with an event of a charitable purpose are not required to sell a selection of liquor from a variety of manufacturers.” Why? The Branch said non-charitable events are subject to the inducement prohibition in s. 62 of the Liquor Control and Licensing Act and “prohibiting exclusivity will help to mitigate the likelihood of inducements being offered.” Further information is available at gov.bc.ca/liquorregulationandlicensing.
Source: Rising Tide Consultants

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