The B.C. government is asking the public to weigh in how the province should handle legal marijuana.
From today through to Nov. 1, British Columbians will be able share their thoughts on how the province should address issues surrounding road safety, youth, and community impacts via a new government website.
Under the federal government’s proposed legalization plan, provinces will have a wide range of discretion over how pot is regulated and sold, and will also take the lead on impaired driving enforcement.
Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth made the announcement to municipal leaders from across the province who have gathered in Vancouver for the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) convention, where tackling issues around legal pot is at the top of the agenda.
The province is aiming to wrap consultations up by November so as to have legislation ready for spring, Farnworth said.
In addition, the province will conduct a random telephone survey to gather opinions from a “representative cross-section” of British Columbians.
It is also staging consultations with stakeholders from local governments, First Nations, law enforcement, health workers, and the agriculture sector.
B.C. has asked Ottawa to delay implementation, Farnworth said, but added that it looks like that won’t happen — and that the province will be ready for the anticipated July 18 legalization date.
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As for how pot is sold, Farnworth said the province is open to municipalities tailoring their own retail models.
“One size does not fit all,” he said.
“I mean we’ve already heard from some municipalities that the have a retail model that they’d like to see in place. Other are open to different kinds of retail models.”
However, for other aspects of the legislation Farnworth said the province is looking for province-wide consistency.
“Age, for example,” he said.
“The distribution model will be the same right across the province. In terms of enforcement, in terms of possession limits. The federal government has said how many plants you can grow — all of those things will be standard.
He added that marijuana production will be licensed at a federal level, which may impact B.C.’s eventual retail models.
B.C. is working with the federal government to ensure there is enough legal supply of marijuana once its legalized, Farnworth said, adding that without it criminals will still play a role in the market.
As for the expected tax windfall from pot sales, Farnworth said the legislation is not about filling government coffers and that funds will mainly go to cover costs to the system, such as regulation and enforcement.
Earlier this month, Farnworth said the province was holding off on drafting new stoned driving legislation in anticipation of new federal changes to impaired driving laws.