Medical marijuana production facility in Richmond B.C. (Black Press files)

B.C. keeps marijuana retail options open

Province may follow Ontario model of government stores

The B.C. government is keeping all of its options on the table for legal marijuana sales, including the government monopoly retail model announced by Ontario, Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said Thursday.

Farnworth was going into two days of meetings in Vancouver with federal Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould and other provincial ministers. They are facing a deadline of July 1, 2018 set for recreational pot sales to become legal, amid warnings from police that it’s not enough time to prepare.

The federal framework gives Ottawa authority over licensing, production, testing and quality control. Provinces are responsible for distribution and retail sales, and Farnworth said the top priority for the province and police is getting organized crime out of the marijuana business.

“Distribution key to that, whether you have a central distribution location, for example the Liquor Distribution Branch, or multiple distribution options,” Farnworth said.

“Vancouver has a model that they seem to do fine with. Plenty of people don’t like it but many people do like it. That may not sell in Port Coquitlam or in Fort St. John, or in the Kootenays or on the Island.”

Ottawa has set a minimum age of 18 for buying marijuana, but B.C. could choose 19 as it has for liquor sales, or a higher limit. B.C. will consult with local governments, police, the existing legal medical marijuana industry and the public, and Farnworth expects to take options to the B.C. cabinet soon.

On taxation, he said it’s important that provinces have similar rates, and that legalization not be seen as a “money grab” for governments.

“When [Finance Minister] Carole James and myself were down in Washington and Oregon, one thing that was very clear is that you cannot set the tax rate so high that it encourages the black market,” Farnworth said.

Just Posted

Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP seeks secret ballot to save abandoned vessels bill

Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP Sheila Malcolmson is seeking a secret ballot to save her private member’s bill.

B.C. Liberal leadership candidates debate different paths for party

Third debate held Sunday, Nov. 19 at Nanaimo’s Vancouver Island Conference Centre

High winds cancel slew of BC Ferries sailings

Travel to and from Victoria and Vancouver as well as Northern Gulf Islands affected

Ladysmith, Stz’uminus celebrate ‘Salish Wind’ unveiling

Ladysmith and Stz’uminus residents gathered together last Wednesday night to witness the… Continue reading

UPDATE: More searchers out looking for missing senior near Nanaimo

Search and rescue personnel from all over the Island are looking for 73-year-old Faye Hanson

Opioid prescriptions up across Canada: report

The report shows the number of opioid prescriptions rose by almost seven per cent, while daily doses on average dropped

Russian meddling has implications for Canada

Kosovo president Hashim Thaci warns that Russian meddling has implications for Canada

Health Canada hints at government’s plans for legal pot

Health warnings, plain covers for pot packs under proposed regulations

Washington governor tells BC don’t be ‘daunted’ by Trump

“I want to assure this assembly that no matter who is in the White House, it won’t affect Washington state’s relationship with Canada or British Columbia.”

Liberals look to ease concerns with housing strategy

Liberals say they look to ease affordability concerns with release of their housing strategy

David Cassidy, teen idol and ‘Partridge Family’ star, dies at 67

Cassidy announced earlier this year he had been diagnosed with dementia

Vigil held for woman whose remains were found on Shuswap farm

Family and friends remember Vernon resident Traci Genereaux and along with five other missing women

LETTER: Jumbo Valley is part of Ktunaxa territorial claim

Ktunaxa Nation Council responds to Tom Fletcher column

Most Read