Pubdate: Fri, 14 Apr 2017
Source: Province, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: Derrick Penner
Page: 2


Feds aim to make it legal to smoke weed by next Canada Day

The federal government on Thursday tabled bills to make the possession
of marijuana for recreational purposes legal in Canada by July 1.
Postmedia News asked the leaders of British Columbia's main political
parties what system they favoured for the distribution of legal pot in
B.C. and whether the province or local governments should share in the
tax revenue.

B.C. Liberal Leader Christy Clark

Clark said she would consult an expert panel of health officials and
law enforcement on how to distribute marijuana safely. She noted the
federal panel that advised government recommended against selling pot
through the liquor distribution branch and that no U.S. state that has
legalized pot allows it to be sold where you can buy alcohol.

"My No. 1 concern is making sure we keep marijuana out of the hands of
kids and its distribution isn't in neighbourhoods that don't want it
and isn't near schools."

Clark said "My early thinking on it is we want to make sure all of the
revenue that comes from marijuana goes back into our health system to
support the health impacts of it, that it goes back into our law
enforcement system to keep crime and gangs out of it."

B.C. NDP Leader John Horgan

Horgan said the B.C. NDP dispatched Carol James and Mike Farnworth to
Washington and Oregon, which have regulated and decriminalized
cannabis, to prepare a report.

"First thing, we want to make sure that we keep marijuana away from
children but we've got to make sure that the regulations are rigid,"
Horgan said. He supports using public liquor stores to dispense
cannabis and sees a role for pharmacies as a "comfortable" option for
older people using medicinal cannabis.

Horgan said if prices are too high, the black market will remain so
his party won't make decisions on what to do with tax revenue until
the federal government's legalization process and amendments to its
legislation have concluded.

B.C. Green party Leader Andrew Weaver

Weaver said the Green party doesn't want the industry "to be taken
over by big multinationals."

It favours a distribution model similar to craft brewing , which
allows consumers to sample and purchase product at a producer's
location, but also directs sales through the liquor distribution
branch, though he would leave it up to the LDB to decide whether it
wants to be involved. And he sees a role for pharmacies in
distributing medicinal marijuana.

"We would support that kind of model that's not one (distribution
channel) or another, it's a combination of both," Weaver said.

He said the province should recognize pot taxes as a source of income
that can be passed back to municipalities to deal with "much of the
provincial downloading (municipalities have absorbed) over the years.

- - With files from Rob Shaw and Nick Eagland.
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