Pubdate: Fri, 14 Apr 2017
Source: Province, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: Dan Fumano
Page: 3
Referenced: Cannabis Act:


Association says homegrown 'cottage industry' will help local economy
and create jobs

With the federal government taking a major step Thursday towards
cannabis legalization, the outlook for B.C.'s flourishing retail pot
industry remains hazy.

The federal Liberals introduced bills to regulate recreational
marijuana in Canada (with legalization expected to come into force by
July 2018). But the legislation leaves several key elements of the
plan especially around the distribution and sale of the product - up
to provincial and territorial governments to figure out.

So it remains to be seen what will happen to the hundreds of
dispensaries that have sprouted up around Vancouver and across the
province in recent years. Some municipalities, including Vancouver and
Victoria, have created licensing regimes for these shops, but they're
still illegal under federal law.

A spokeswoman for B.C.'s Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor
General said with the provincial government dissolved ahead of the
coming May 9 election, no one was available to answer questions about
the topic. But the provincial ministry released a statement on the
topic two weeks ago, in advance of this week's federal announcement,
stating "the elements to cannabis legalization that B.C. is most
concerned about" include making sure "a strategy is in place to deal
with the influx of dispensaries."

Jeremy Jacob, president of the Canadian Association of Medicinal
Cannabis Dispensaries, said a regime that makes space for B.C.'s
existing "cottage industry" of dispensaries will help the province's
economy and create jobs.

"Because we have this unique climate here in B.C., with 20 years of
history for dispensaries and licensing programs in major cities, we
expect to see inclusive regulations here.

"But nothing's taken for granted; we need to engage, we need to
continue advocating," said Jacob. Several retail models have been
proposed for cannabis, including sale through government liquor stores
or pharmacy chains, Jacob said, both of which are supported by
lobbying efforts from "guys who are better funded and more organized
than us."

Whichever provincial party forms B.C.'s government next month will set
to work on the details of cannabis distribution and sale regulations,
so Jacob said his industry association is encouraging members to talk
to local candidates and MLAs, adding: "Now is the right time to do

"We certainly hope it does become an issue, we want the provincial
parties to tell us their stance on legalization," he said.

Up until Thursday, provincial party leaders were likely keeping quiet
about cannabis legalization until they could see what the federal
legislation looked like, said Tony Wilson, a lawyer with Boughton Law
in Vancouver who has written and spoken on the topic of retail pot.
But now that the bills have been introduced, this could become a key
election issue.

"How fascinating that this raises its head during a provincial
election, where in fact, the provincial candidates are going to be on
the hot seat a little bit," he said. The B.C. NDP may come out in
favour of liquor stores, because they're "unionized and safe," he
said, and the B.C. Liberals may support dispensaries and private enterprise.

Vancouver Coun. Kerry Jang, the self-described "main architect" of the
city's dispensary licensing program, said he spoke this week with Bill
Blair, the Liberal MP and the point man on the marijuana file, who
said municipalities will play a key role in the licensing and
enforcement of retail cannabis.

Whatever distribution regime the next B.C. government implements, Jang
said he doesn't expect it to nullify Vancouver's pioneering work
setting up a retail pot licensing system. Instead, he said, he expects
the B.C. government, and other provinces, may actually look to learn
from "the Vancouver model."

"To me, it should be managed no differently than alcohol, tobacco, or
a dozen eggs," Jang said. "You know where it comes from, you know what
the quality's like, and you know where it's sold."
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MAP posted-by: Matt