The highs & lows of designing a new service: cannabis legalization in B.C. (English—live translation available)

Starting only 10 months before legalization, with undrafted regulations, and a politically sensitive topic, the cannabis project highlighted the highs and lows of service design and digital product development in government.

With the announcement of cannabis legalization in Canada, the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch partnered with the B.C. service design team to design the new application process for private retail sales. As with many design briefs, there was more to the problem than just designing an application. Our research reframed the problem from the need to design a single application process to understanding the end-to-end journey of selling cannabis in B.C.

To be blunt, this project wasn’t smooth. You’ll get the real story of where we weren’t able to have the impact we wanted, how we felt the tensions of designing a service vs building a product, and the positive impacts on our practice from what we learned.


Davis Levine, B.C. Government - Government Digital Experience Division

Davis Levine is a service designer at the British Columbia government in their Government Digital Experience Division. Davis graduated with a Bachelor of Design in Visual Communication from the University of Alberta. After spending some time as a UX designer in Edmonton, he went on to pursue a Masters degree in Digital Experience Design at Hyper Island in Manchester England. His experience at Hyper Island eventually led him to the B.C. Government with a vision of bringing design practices into all areas of government. He is particularly interested in exploring the intersection of design and public policy to look at new ways of approaching policy problems. When not designing things, he likes riding bicycles and making pottery.


Meg Stiven, B.C. Government - Government Digital Experience Division

Meg Stiven is a service designer with British Columbia’s Government Digital Experience (GDX). She loves getting to see behind-the-scenes in the province, and help government understand the people who use its services. Meg graduated from Emily Carr University with a Bachelor of Design, and worked in visual design and UX before being led to service design by a love of working with users to improve end-to-end experiences. At GDX, Meg gets to experience people’s challenges first-hand, spend time analyzing with her super-smart teammates and open-minded partners, think of powerful ways to communicate citizens’ needs to decision makers, and build excitement around new ways of doing things, which to Meg feels like her design dreams come true.