Pubdate: Thu, 07 Dec 2017
Source: Vancouver Courier (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 Vancouver Courier
Author: Mike Howell


New government rules set 19 as minimum age to buy marijuana

The provincial government announced Tuesday that the BC Liquor
Distribution Branch will be the wholesale distributor of non-medical
cannabis once the federal government legalizes marijuana in July 2018.

The policy move by the government is in addition to new rules that
state buyers and consumers of recreational marijuana must be at least
19 years old, which is consistent with current laws related to alcohol
and tobacco.

Mike Farnworth, the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General,
spoke to reporters in a conference call but would not say specifically
where consumers will be able to legally buy marijuana under the new

Reporters asked about selling marijuana in liquor stores and
pharmacies -- and what effect the new rules will have on the dozens of
illegal pot shops operating in Vancouver and other municipalities --
but Farnworth said he would have answers in late January, early
February of 2018.

"In regards to the retail model of cannabis, we are still looking at a
series of options as to how that will take place," he said. "It's my
expectation that it will be a public and private retail model. That is
fitting with the comments that I have been making publicly since the
start of this file that what works in Vancouver may not work in Fort
St. John or Kamloops or Campbell River or Port Coquitlam."

The policy decisions come after the government heard via telephone and
online from 48,951 British Columbians and received 141 submissions
from local and Indigenous governments and a range of others in
anticipation of the legalization of marijuana.

The government said the new rules reflect feedback received from local
government members of the joint provincial-local government committee
on cannabis regulations. The Union of B.C Municipalities executive
also endorsed the policy moves.

Dana Larsen, a director of the Vancouver Dispensary Society, said he
wasn't surprised by the government's direction on how it plans to
regulate distribution and retail sales of marijuana.

"It could be worse, but it could be a lot better," said Larsen, noting
he hopes the government's decision to distribute marijuana through the
liquor branch doesn't mean all marijuana will be sold in liquor
stores. "If I was in charge, I would just have the licensed producers
sell directly to [marijuana] stores."

Added Larsen: "I don't like the province having to be the one that's 
going to buy and re-sell all the cannabis. I think that's just going to 
make it more expensive, it's going to limit choice and it's going to 
make it harder for them to compete against our province's very robust 
craft cannabis industry and black-grey market."

Farnworth said there has been no discussion with the federal
government about allowing B.C. to license growers. But, the minister
said, he believes there is a need to bring in legally operated
"small-scale production" of marijuana, including the possiblity of

In having B.C. create a regulatory framework for the legalization of
marijuana, Farnworth said it will require government to introduce or
amend up to 18 pieces of legislation.

Farnworth joined Vision Vancouver Coun. Kerry Jang in September to
announce the government wanted the public's feedback on how it should
regulate distribution and retail sales of marijuana.

At that news conference, Farnworth dismissed any suggestion the
government's aim was to create a new revenue stream.

"This is about legalization and the best way to do it," he told
reporters. "It's not about saying, 'Oh, here's a money grab in which
we can get all kinds of revenue in and not have to worry about the
consequences.' It's either done right, or it's done wrong. The revenue
issue is part of it, but that should not be the first and foremost
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