Pubdate: Wed, 04 Oct 2017
Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)
Copyright: 2017 The Globe and Mail Company
Author: Andrea Woo
Page: S1


During first ministers meetings, Premier hints that B.C., unlike
Ontario, may leverage dispensaries in its legalized drug regime

Premier John Horgan has hinted again that British Columbia's growing
number of illegal marijuana dispensaries could have a role to play
when recreational use of the drug is made legal next summer.

Mr. Horgan, who in the past has voiced support for bringing existing
operators on board, seemed to suggest on Tuesday that B.C.'s robust
marijuana industry means the province is already well positioned to
begin legal retail sales by the federal government's July 1 target.

"We have, in some parts of the Lower Mainland, more dispensaries than
we do Starbucks," the Premier told reporters in Ottawa as he headed
into a meeting of first ministers.

"We are well advanced in terms of the retail elements of this. The
challenges, of course, are on regulation and distribution in a more
thoughtful way."

Mr. Horgan's comment comes as provinces and territories scramble to
sort out the details of what legalization will look like, as Ottawa
has left the contentious issues of regulating wholesale distribution
and retail to them.

Some jurisdictions, as well as police forces, have asked for the date
to be pushed back.

Ontario became the first province to issue its plan last month,
announcing that the province would launch a monopoly of cannabis
stores as a subsidiary of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario - 40
next year and 150 by 2020 - in a move that would effectively end
private dispensaries.

"Let me be clear: These pot dispensaries are illegal and will be shut
down," Ontario Attorney-General Yasir Naqvi told reporters. "If you
operate one of these facilities, consider yourself on notice."

Alberta has not yet issued its plan. Calgary city staff have
recommended the province set up a private retail system similar to
that of liquor stores.

Since the election campaign this spring, Mr. Horgan has been open to
the idea of various distribution models, including selling marijuana
in government-run liquor stores, private beer and wine stores,
pharmacies and existing dispensaries.

Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor-General, said
on Tuesday that the province had not yet decided on a retail model,
but that "all options are under discussion."

A consultation process, which launched Sept. 25 and runs until the
beginning of November, aims to garner feedback from the public on
issues such as distribution and retail models, minimum age and
drug-impaired driving.

Should British Columbia allow private dispensaries, it would still
have to address the issue of marijuana supply.
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