BC's Public Safety Minister clears the air on cannabis legislation

Apr 27 2018, 9:16 pm

Saying that it provides “sound foundation for the regulation and safe implementation of legalized cannabis” in the province, the BC government introduced new legislation this week regarding recreational cannabis use in the province.

The legislation “marks a major milestone, and puts our province in position to not only be ready for federal cannabis legalization in late summer, “said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “But [it] does so in a way that reflects the province’s goal… that prioritizes public health and safety, particularly for our children and youth.”

The proposed Cannabis Distribution Act (CDA) will establish the province’s exclusive jurisdiction over wholesale distribution and provide authority for public retail sales.

Also proposed is the Cannabis Control and Licensing Act (CCLA), which establishes provincial control over the sale, supply and possession of non-medical weed, and establishes licensing of private retailers, including registration and training requirements for retail workers.

On Friday, Farnworth spoke with Daily Hive to offer some further insight on the government’s plans regarding the distribution, use, and sale of recreational, legalized cannabis.

When asked about a realistic time frame regarding regulations and market access around products such as vape pens, edibles, topicals, and the other products, Farnworth noted that products such as edibles aren’t legal and “won’t be legal” until sometime next year.

“That’s the responsibility of the federal government so we’re not able to deal with the issues of edibles at this point, as that comes under federal jurisdiction.”

Farnworth also spoke about BC’s chosen distribution model, which each province is responsible for determining themselves.

“Nine out of 10 provinces have gone with a provincially-based distribution model and that’s what the model will be.”

That said, Farnworth noted that BC does differ from other provinces, in that “there would be a mix of public and private retail offered.”

“We’ve gone with a mix and local governments will decide what kind of retail outlets they want in their communities,” said Farnworth.

In contrast, he noted Ontario and Quebec have gone solely with the government store model.

Scale and production

When it comes to production, Farnworth said BC has pushed to ensure that small-scale production was in fact part of the production network.”

He noted that initially, when the federal government brought it out, legislation was really only geared towards large-scale production.

“BC’s stance was in recognition of the fact that we have a considerable production industry in this province that we need to find a way to bring that small-scale production into the legal system,” he said. “That creates an opportunity right there for many entrepreneurs.”

It’s also why, Farnworth said, that on the retail side of things, “we didn’t just go with a government store model, but said there’s opportunity here for both government stores and for private retail. We think that’s a good mix and it keeps in line with the consultation that we did with over 43,000 British Columbians.”

Farnworth also responded to the discrepancy between the number, size, and scope of BC’s domestic legal producers compared to their Ontario counterparts, and if his government had any plans to improve on this.

“That’s the role of the federal government,” he responded. “They have the jurisdiction over the licensing and production.”

For his part, Farnworth said the BC government wants to see small-scale producers and that the provincial government has made the federal government aware of this.

“BC is responsible for retail and enforcement, but on the production side, it’s very much in the hands of the federal government,” he said. “What I want to make sure of is that production licenses are fairly distributed and BC gets its fair share.”

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