Pubdate: Tue, 13 Feb 2018
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2018 Times Colonist
Page: A9


Coming soon to a storefront near you: a cannabis shop. The provincial
government has brought down the latest of many new regulations as the
date for legalization approaches. After much debate and much reading
of tea leaves, the government says that legalized recreational
marijuana will be sold at stand-alone stores, some run by private
operators and others by the Liquor Distribution Branch. The
distribution branch will be the wholesaler, and all will be overseen
by the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch.

The province wisely listened to the advice from many sources that
warned against combining pot and alcohol in the same outlet. In fact,
marijuana shops would not be allowed to sell tobacco, clothes, gas or
lottery tickets - except in rural areas.

We can understand that vices such as drinking, smoking and gambling
should be kept well away from marijuana, but it's not clear whether
the policy-makers feared that pot might induce shoppers to splurge on
clothes they don't need. Or might they make unfortunate fashion
choices while under the influence?

That head-scratcher aside, the government has done a good job of
balancing the many competing interests while keeping an eye on public

The B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union, partnering with the
B.C. Private Liquor Store Association, wanted to sell cannabis in
existing liquor stores, arguing that liquor-store employees are
already trained to keep intoxicants out of the hands of people under

They maintained there is no evidence that selling the two together is

However, as the manager of one Victoria cannabis outlet said: "The one
amplifies the other and the next thing you know, you're beyond your
limit. When you stick the two things together like that and say:
'Don't use them together,' that seems a little preposterous."

So far, only Nova Scotia has decided to sell pot in government-run
liquor stores.

The operators of the cannabis shops that have opened in Victoria and
other municipalities in anticipation of legalization can breathe a
sigh of relief, as they won't automatically be put out of business by
the new regulations. However, that doesn't mean they will survive.

Although the province won't set a limit on the number of licences, it
will work with local governments, which will regulate where the stores
can operate. The City of Victoria has already done a lot of that work
by regulating shops that have already sprung up. Other municipalities
have their work cut out for them.

After you buy your newly legalized marijuana from your newly legalized
outlet, don't assume you can light up in your car or even at home.
Drivers and passengers won't be allowed to use it in a vehicle, and
drug-addled drivers will lose their licences for 90 days, just like
those impaired by booze.

Your home, if it's a rental unit or strata, might be off limits, too.
Strata councils and landlords will be able to prohibit you from
smoking or growing pot in your unit unless it's medicinal. However, if
your current lease agreement doesn't include that restriction, it
can't be added unless you sign a new agreement.

The headaches this will create for residents, owners, strata councils
and landlords are easy to imagine. Lawyers and dispute-resolution
tribunals will be kept busy sorting out the inevitable conflicts.

Lawyers are likely to be busy, as well, as the government tries to
make sure the pot - and the people who sell it - are not connected to
organized crime. No one expects the criminal side of the business will
disappear immediately.

There is much work to do, but the provincial government is taking a
sober approach to regulating this new business.
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