Pubdate: Tue, 06 Feb 2018
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Copyright: 2018 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: Derrick Penner
Page: A4


The provincial government on Monday unveiled a set of retail rules for
recreational cannabis that paves the way for a new network of
stand-alone stores operated by the B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch but
leaves an opening for existing medical-pot dispensaries to legitimize.

However, municipalities will be left with the authority to block any
storefront sales of marijuana if they oppose it, Solicitor General
Mike Farnworth said in unveiling the regulatory framework.

The retail framework, to be in place for legalization of recreational
cannabis by July 1, will allow for online and storefront sales but
restrict bricks-and-mortar commerce to stand-alone stores that don't
sell liquor, tobacco, food or other products.

Farnworth said the framework provides a sound foundation to support
the NDP government's priority of public health and safety. But he also
cautioned there are many decisions left to be made and the province is
waiting for the federal government to finalize its proposed
regulations on licensing and sales.

"Some may think that this work will end in July when non-medical
cannabis is legalized by the federal government," he said. "But the
truth is our government will be dealing with this significant change
in policy for years to come."

Farnworth said the province's Liquor Control and Licensing Branch will
be given the responsibility to license and oversee private stores,
while the B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch will be allowed to operate a
stand-alone network of its own outlets.

In the spring, the province will launch an early registration seeking
applications from businesses that want licences.

Farnworth promised there won't be a cap on licences, but he vowed that
licences won't be granted without the support of local

Vancouver and Victoria have already set up licensing regimes for
marijuanadispensaries, but Farnworth said other municipalities such as
Richmond have said they don't want pot shops in their communities at

"We're not forcing anything down any community's throats," he

However, the province expects the new regulations will give special
consideration to locations for the public to purchase cannabis in
rural and remote communities.

In December, the government said the legal age to purchase cannabis
would be 19, and that did not change in Monday's announcement.

Anyone over the age of 19 will be able to purchase and possess up to
30 grams of marijuana for recreational use. It will be allowed
anywhere people can legally smoke tobacco or use vaping products,
though it will be illegal in vehicles and in places frequented by
children, including beaches, parks and playgrounds.

Farnworth said the government will create a 90-day driving ban for
drug-impaired drivers. He also promised increased training for police
to recognize impairment.

In alignment with federal law on cultivation, B.C.'s regulations will
allow citizens to grow up to four cannabis plants per household of
their own, though it will restrict growers from placing plants where
they could be seen by the public. It will give landlords and strata
corporations the authority to restrict or ban cultivation.

B.C. Liberal public safety critic Mike Morris characterized the
framework as dithering by the NDP because it doesn't include an
implementation plan.

"This announcement leaves a lot of questions to be answered at a later
date, which is very concerning," Morris said in a statement. "We're
five months away from legalization coming into effect and we're still
only seeing part of a plan."

Cannabis activist Dana Larsen said the provincial framework appears
headed in the right direction by not allowing cannabis sales alongside
alcohol or tobacco and opening a pathway for existing dispensaries to
transition into legal operation. "Overall, I'm pretty pleased and I
think (B.C.'s regulations are) better than other provinces," said
Larsen, director of the pro-cannabis group Sensible B.C.

Larsen was displeased, however, with the regulation that he said will
allow landlords or strata councils to "blanket ban" cultivation in
rental properties or apartments.

David Hutniak, CEO of Landlord B.C., said landlords are sensitive to
accommodating the needs of tenants who are legally licensed to use
medicinal marijuana, but the prospect of recreational use introduces a
whole new scale to the issue.

Hutniak said recreational cannabis cultivation can raise insurance or
financing risks for landlords and can be a nuisance to other
residents, and his members hear their complaints.

- - With files from The Canadian Press
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