Pubdate: Thu, 08 Feb 2018
Source: Prince George Citizen (CN BC)
Copyright: 2018 Prince George Citizen
Page: 6


In an interview with The Citizen last April during the 2017 provincial
election, NDP leader John Horgan admitted that government and
politicians are behind public sentiment when it comes to marijuana.
Knowing it and saying it is one thing but Horgan, now the premier,
still seems reluctant to act on it, based on the additional details on
a provincial pot policy the NDP government announced Monday that will
take effect once marijuana is legalized later this year.

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

What trivial fretting over behaviour the public and the marketplace
have already decided upon.

An NDP government under someone like Dave Barrett would have boldly
introduced sweeping guidelines for the sale of legal marijuana in
existing public liquor stores and private liquor outlets, while
leaving the fate of existing and proposed dispensaries up to
individual municipalities.

Instead, Horgan and his ministers are just as bad as the B.C. Liberals 
were on this file, tiptoeing around the issue instead of taking the 
decisive action the public wants to see. Some of the details revealed 

* Pot will be available for purchase online.

News flash: Cannabis is already bought and sold online in B.C. For
anyone who has personally visited a dispensary in Vancouver or
Victoria and became a member (that is, produced a driver's licence
proving their age, identity and home address), that dispensary will
ship your online order to your home, anywhere in the province.

* People will be able to smoke pot in public places where smoking and
vaping are allowed, except for vehicles and outdoor areas where kids
hang out, like playgrounds, parks and beaches.

News flash: Another already common practice in most communities. Adult
pot smokers are most likely to be found in their backyards. Some
idiots spark up and then get behind the wheel, just like some drive
after drinking. These people need to lose their vehicles and their
driver's licences for a year, not just 90 days as the NDP proposes.

* People can grow up to four plants per household but landlords and
strata councils can further restrict or outright prohibit the growing
of cannabis.

News flash: Landlords and strata councils already have written policy
on everything from making your own wine and beer in your basement to
whether you can use a barbecue or hang flower baskets off your deck.
Landlords and strata councils were going to set their own rules,
whether the province liked it or not.

* While the B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch will be the wholesale
distributor for legal marijuana, it won't be able to sell it in public
liquor stores, nor will anybody else that sells liquor or tobacco.

News flash: An advocacy group, made up of private liquor stores and
the union representing public liquor store workers, want marijuana to
be sold in liquor stores under the existing system and procedures,
which is the direction Nova Scotia and the Northwest Territories have
wisely taken.

The benefits are obvious. Mayor and councillors in B.C.
municipalities, including Prince George, could rest easy knowing
reputable outlets already approved to sell alcohol are responsible for
dispensing pot, while consumers know they are buying safe and legal
marijuana, not sketchy product funding gang activity.

* While the province will oversee applications for retail cannabis
sales, municipalities will have the final say on how many licences are
granted and where they must operate.

News flash: In other words, the province is treating marijuana exactly
the same as alcohol and giving municipalities the authority to set
their own local retail policy but won't allow existing retail alcohol
establishments to sell pot.


* It will remain illegal in B.C. to buy marijuana at legal facilities
where it is mass produced.

News flash: Craft breweries and wineries can sell their products
directly to consumers who walk through their doors. Why won't
marijuana producers be able to do the same?

Also bizarre.

This hot mess of a provincial policy lands directly onto the lap of
B.C. municipalities, including Prince George, during an election year.

Hopefully Prince George city council is more mature than the
provincial government and makes pragmatic decisions on legal marijuana
sales in line with the existing preferences of local residents.

All that will take is courage and common sense, something that seems
in short supply at the moment in the Legislature.

- - Editor-in-chief Neil Godbout
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MAP posted-by: Matt