Pubdate: Tue, 06 Feb 2018
Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)
Copyright: 2018 The Globe and Mail Company
Author: Mike Hager
Page: A8


Province's system heeds advice of public-health experts, but
substances won't be sold together in single outlet

British Columbia will create a retail system for recreational cannabis
that is almost identical to the one for alcohol, but like most other
provinces, will not allow the two substances to be sold together in
private or public stores once Ottawa legalizes marijuana this summer.

Solicitor-General Mike Farnworth released more details for the
province's legal cannabis framework on Monday. He noted that his NDP
government heeded the advice of the country's top public health
experts to ban the sales of cannabis next to alcohol. The province's
biggest public unions had pushed for co-location, which only Nova
Scotia and the Northwest Territories have approved. However, it will
be legal in some rural areas, just as the province now allows alcohol
to be sold next to tobacco in special cases, he added.

As is the case with alcohol, municipalities will have the final word
on if and where they want cannabis sold, with the provincial Liquor
Control and Licensing Branch in charge of licensing cannabis retailers
and making sure they comply with the law.

"It's going to take some time before we get the entire retail system
up and running," he said. "We fully anticipate all levels of
government will need to continue to assess and refine cannabis policy
and regulation in the months and years to come."

He said the province is creating an online sales portal and the first
standalone government store is expected to be selling product by "late
summer," which is unlikely to coincide with Ottawa's promise to end
prohibition in July.

To hasten the licensing process, the provincial liquor agency will
allow applicants to start registering for a retail licence this
spring, he said.

Those now operating illegal dispensaries, more than a hundred of which
exist across the province, will be allowed to apply for a licence, as
will those with criminal records for drug offences and other "low
risk" activities. But entry into the legal sector will be granted on a
case-by-case basis and those with ties to organized crime or gangs
won't be allowed in, Mr. Farnworth said.

Commercial producers now licensed by Ottawa to grow medical cannabis
won't be allowed to open their own stores - as in Alberta - and
entrepreneurs will be prohibited from selling any products from
producers to which they are linked. As well, the provincial agency
will have to approve the commercial name of each store, with the words
dispensary, apothecary or pharmacy outlawed because they blur the line
between recreational and medical cannabis.

The B.C. government announced in December that 19 would be the minimum
age to possess up to 30 grams.

On Monday, Mr. Farnworth announced more rules, including allowing
people to smoke cannabis in public places where tobacco smoking and
vaping are permitted, although it will be banned in vehicles and in
areas frequented by children, including beaches, parks and
playgrounds. Provincial rules for marijuana cultivation will align
with the federal government's proposal, allowing adults to grow up to
four plants per household, but landlords are allowed to prohibit
cultivation and use by tenants.

The B.C. government will also create a 90-day driving ban for those
caught drug-impaired while driving, and it will increase training for
law enforcement officers to recognize impairment. The Responsible
Marijuana Retail Alliance of BC, an initiative of the union
representing public liquor store workers and an association
representing private liquor outlets, said it was disappointed that the
government rejected its proposal to sell cannabis in liquor stores.
Mike Morris, the public safety critic for the provincial Liberal Party
and former solicitor-general, said the NDP government is dithering in
making actual decisions and has only released part of its plan.

- - With a report from Reuters
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