Pubdate: Tue, 06 Feb 2018
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2018 Times Colonist
Author: Katie DeRosa
Page: A1


Recreational marijuana will be sold in a network of stand-alone stores
overseen by the province's liquor regulator, according to rules
announced Monday by the B.C. government.

Public health officials had warned against selling cannabis and
alcohol in the same place, which is advice the province took
seriously, said Mike Farnworth, minister of public safety and
solicitor general.

When federal law makes recreational pot legal in July, there will be
both privately run and government-operated cannabis shops. They will
not be allowed to sell alcohol, tobacco, clothes, gas or lottery
tickets, although exceptions will be made for pot shops in rural areas.

Privately run cannabis stores cannot brand themselves as a "pharmacy,"
"apothecary" or "dispensary" or use other words related to the selling
of medicine.

The regulatory system for cannabis stores will be similar to that of
liquor stores.

B.C.'s Liquor Distribution Branch will operate a stand-alone network
of government-run retail stores and the Liquor Control and Licensing
Branch will be responsible for licensing private stores and monitoring
the retail sector.

The first government-run cannabis stores are to open by late summer
and the online sale of pot is being considered.

All pot shops must purchase wholesale cannabis from the Liquor
Distribution Branch, which will obtain cannabis from federally
licensed producers.

Retail prices have not been announced.

It will take regular inspection and enforcement to ensure marijuana
retailers aren't getting their supply from organized crime, Farnworth
said. "If you're found to be selling product that's not from a
licensed producer, you're not going to be in business very long," he

Someone with a criminal record will not be excluded from operating a
marijuana store, but someone with ties to organized crime will.

The B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union, partnering with the
B.C. Private Liquor Store Association, had pushed for cannabis to be
sold in liquor stores.

The two groups said unionized liquor store employees would be well
qualified to deal with the restrictions of selling cannabis since they
already go through rigorous training to ensure alcohol doesn't get
into the hands of minors. Like alcohol, the legal age for buying
cannabis will be 19.

"There isn't any scientific evidence that shows that co-location [of
cannabis and alcohol] is harmful," said Paul Finch, treasurer for the

Andrew Gill, manager for Farmacy, one of the few cannabis stores with
a business licence in Victoria, said he thinks it makes sense to sell
cannabis and alcohol separately. "The one amplifies the other and the
next thing you know, you're beyond your limit," Gill said. "When you
stick the two things together like that and say 'Don't use them
together,' that seems a little preposterous."

Gill said he's happy that B.C. is not following in Ontario's
footsteps, where only the Liquor Control Board of Ontario will be
authorized to sell cannabis in stand-alone stores.

Nova Scotia is the only province that has decided to sell cannabis
alongside alcohol in government-run stores.

"So far, I'm kind of impressed," Gill said. "I like that they're not
giving everything to the government right away. It's nice they're
giving [private operators] a fighting chance."

B.C. will not cap the number of retail licences available but will
consult with local governments, which have the authority to set rules
on where stores can operate.

The City of Victoria in 2016 created a regulatory regime that requires
pot shops to be at least 200 metres away from a school and other
cannabis retailers.

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said it was a risk establishing rules for
cannabis stores ahead of provincial and federal legislation, but that
decision has put the city "ahead of the curve."

"We'll need to make little to no changes, from what I understand … to
our legislative framework," Helps said. "We're happy to share our
regulatory regime with every other local government in the province
that's now going to have to scramble to get something in place by July."

The province is creating a 90-day driving prohibition for
drug-affected driving, similar to the system that exists for drunk
driving. The federal government is still running tests with a device
that allows police to detect drugimpaired drivers by checking saliva.

The federal government has yet to pass a bill that toughens Canada's
impaired driving laws. Critics have raised concerns about Bill C-46,
which would allow police to conduct random roadside tests without
needing a reasonable suspicion that the driver is impaired. Farnworth
said the fact that the legislation is not in place is "a real concern"
for the province.

New drivers will not be allowed to have any THC, a core compound in
cannabis, in their system and neither the driver nor passengers will
be allowed to consume cannabis in a vehicle.

Farnworth could not say how much the province will spend on setting up
cannabis distribution or training police officers to nab drug-impaired
driver, but acknowledged the costs will be considerable. "Those who
are looking at this as a cash cow for governments shouldn't be looking
at it that way."

As with tobacco, unless there are specific restrictions, it will be
legal to smoke pot in public.

Landlords and strata councils will be able to restrict tenants from
smoking or growing nonmedical cannabis in their units.

However, the rules mean that landlords will not be able prohibit
existing tenants from smoking recreational marijuana if it's not
explicitly stated in their lease agreement, said David Hutniak, CEO of
Landlord B.C., which represents rental property owners and managers.
"We were looking for a complete ban [on smoking or growing
recreational cannabis] and this is not a complete ban," he said.

B.C. and other provinces have been tasked with crafting the rules for
pot distribution before the federal government legalizes recreational
marijuana in July.

Farnworth said July "is only the beginning of our journey and these
changes will not happen overnight. 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."
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