Pubdate: Wed, 20 Dec 2017
Source: Quesnel Cariboo Observer (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 Quesnel Cariboo Observer
Author: Ken Alexander


Province releases first decisions on cannabis regulation after public

After receiving input from 48,951 British Columbians and submissions
from 141 local and Indigenous governments and other interested
stakeholders, the provincial government made some decisions on the
anticipated legalization of non-medical cannabis in July 2018.

On Dec. 5, the NDP government announced the following policy

Minimum age

The Province will set the minimum age to possess, purchase and consume
cannabis at 19 years old. A minimum age of 19 is consistent with
B.C.'s minimum age for alcohol and tobacco and with the age of
majority in B.C.

Wholesale distribution of cannabis

Like other provinces, B.C. will have a government-run wholesale
distribution model. The BC Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB) will be
the wholesale distributor of non-medical cannabis in B.C.

Retail sale of cannabis

The Province anticipates establishing a retail model that includes
both public and private retail opportunities and will share details
regarding the model in early 2018.

 From Sept. 25 to Nov. 1, 2017, the public and stakeholders were asked
to share their input and expertise on a range of issues related to the
regulation of non-medical cannabis in B.C., including minimum age,
personal possession, public consumption, drug-impaired driving,
personal cultivation, wholesale distribution and retail models.

Public Safety Minister and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth says the
policy decisions also reflect the feedback received from the local
government members of the Joint Provincial-Local Government Committee
on Cannabis Regulation (JCCR) and are endorsed by the Union of B.C.
Municipalities executive.

"We thank all British Columbians who provided their input during the
important public and stakeholder engagement process.

He adds B.C. still has a number of key decisions to make as it
prepares for the legalization of cannabis.

City of Quesnel council went through the options with a fine-toothed
comb and submitted its comments and preferences to the Province.

Mayor Bob Simpson says council stated its preference to have the sale
of non-medical cannabis to go through the public domain or liquor store.

"The minute they go into that private or public/private retail model -
for small communities like ours, we become the regulator and it
becomes a burden throughout business licence process, policing
function and everything else.

"It escalates the loading on the municipalities because we're the
permitting and policing authority."

He adds another burden on local governments is dealing with the
ability for the general public to grow its own marijuana, and the
provincial government hasn't spoken to that aspect yet.

"Who's going into every household counting plants? If you have
renters, you get into the landlord and tenant issues.

"We need tools to manage that in a meaningful way."

Simpson notes the Province hasn't commented on revenue

He adds local governments know both the federal and provincial
governments are well aware of the issue.

"As I warned council on the night we passed our [input] resolution, I
don't think there's this gold mine of revenue in the tax that's
proposed by the feds.

"So we have to be careful to not link it directly to whatever revenue
they're getting from the sale of cannabis.

"It has to be revenue relative to the burden that we're going to have
to bear. It has to cover the incremental costs and we don't care if it
comes from cannabis or it comes from general taxation. It has to be a
real-cost underwriting."

The mayor says the real problem for local governments in B.C. and
probably across the country are the number of marijuana dispensaries
popping up everywhere.

"Most of their activities will continue to be illegal post
legalization of cannabis because their sourcing of the marijuana in
most locations is from unregulated, unlicensed sources."

He adds medical marijuana is supposed to be delivered by mail from
licensed and registered producers that are sanctioned by the federal

"When you go in these medical dispensaries that are spread throughout,
they're sourcing their marijuana from illicit sources that will remain

This is the problem with going to a private model, Simpson says,
adding if you go to the public model [liquor stores], they're going to
take it from the properly designated growers through the distribution
model and that's the only thing they're going to provide.

"If you go into a private dispensary, you don't know where it's coming
from, so you could mixing the illicit source with the legal one."

It becomes a real problem from a policing perspective, he concludes.
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