Pubdate: Tue, 26 Sep 2017
Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)
Copyright: 2017 The Globe and Mail Company
Author: Sunny Dhillon
Page: S1


The B.C. government has launched a five-week consultation process
around the legalization of marijuana and says the way the drug is
purchased could differ from city to city.

The minister in charge of the file told a news conference Monday that
Vancouverites might prefer to continue buying marijuana through
dispensaries, while other communities opt for something else.

"One size does not fit all," B.C. Minister of Public Safety Mike
Farnworth told reporters.

The federal government has committed to legalizing the recreational
use of marijuana by July.

Ontario unveiled its retail and distribution model earlier this

Mr. Farnworth acknowledged his province is playing catch-up, given the
recent election and delay in forming government. He said British
Columbia and other provinces have asked Ottawa for more time, although
it appears unlikely they will receive it.

But the minister said British Columbia's consultation process - which
runs until Nov. 1 - is necessary, given the wide array of views.

"I think it's been made pretty clear that people want to havea say,
and local government wants to have a say, and the industry would like
to have a say," he said.

Mr. Farnworth said any legislative changes would have to be
implemented in the spring session. He said some aspects of British
Columbia's plan will be uniform. For instance, he said the legal age
of use will be the same throughout the province. The federal
government has said the minimum age will be 18 but provinces can raise
it. Mr. Farnworth said British Columbia could harmonize the legal age
for marijuana with its legal age for alcohol, which is 19.

But other elements of British Columbia's plan, the minister said,
could vary. He said some municipalities may want one retail model over

When asked what would happen to existing dispensaries in Vancouver and
throughout British Columbia, the minister said that's why the province
wants to hear from local governments.

"Some communities may say, 'Yes, we want dispensaries.' Others may
say, 'We don't want dispensaries.' The key question, though, from my
perspective, is that whatever retail model we have in place is a legal
model using legal product and we get the black market out of it," he

Kerry Jang, a Vancouver councillor who has been the city's point
person on cannabis issues, joined Mr. Farnworth at Monday's event and
said the public consultation is an important step that will allow
British Columbians to share their insights.

Dana Larsen, director of Sensible BC, which has advocated for
marijuana decriminalization, said in an interview he plans to write a
submission to the province.

Mr. Larsen said he'd like to see B.C. grant grow licences and bring
existing cannabis businesses into the legalization framework.

The Ontario government has said it plans to launch a monopoly of
cannabis stores, with 40 to open next year. It has said its new system
will mean the end of private-sector storefronts currently selling pot.

Mr. Larsen said he does not want B.C. to follow Ontario's

Rielle Capler, a PhD candidate at the University of British Columbia
who studies cannabis issues, said B.C. will need to determine not only
the minimum age of consumption, but where people can use marijuana,
where they can access it, and how to handle cannabis-impaired drivers.

She said she is also interested to see what happens with the
production of the marijuana itself.

"Production is regulated at the federal level but it has great
implications for how cannabis is accessed in the province. That's
something the province will need to be in discussion with the federal
government about," she said in an interview.

M-J Milloy, a research scientist with the BC Centre on Substance Use,
said in an interview he'd like to see a system that offers a regulated
product at a fair price that involves both local and national
producers and improves the health and well-being of British Columbians.

He did question whether there would be enough of a marijuana supply
when it is legalized. Mr. Larsen predicted a shortage within a matter
of days.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt