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

Cowichan in national spotlight with Hometown Hockey

Rogers Hometown Hockey is a two-day festival that culminates with a national broadcast Sunday

Ladysmith’s Coats for Folks closes early due to building sale

The sale of a commercial building on First Avenue last month has… Continue reading

Jury convicts spear-wielding Duncan man in 2015 Ladysmith RV park murder

Trever George Meers used a handmade spear to stab Rayna Johnson at the Campers Corners RV Park

VIDEO: World-renowned urban planner encourages Cowichan Valley to ‘benchmark with the best’

CVRD welcomes Gil Penalosa, founder and chair of 8 80 Cities, as part of Place-Making Speaker Series

North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP member poses as construction worker to catch distracted motorists

North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP are taking action on distract driving this year and… Continue reading

WATCH: Giant waves smash Ucluelet’s Amphitrite Point

Folks made their way to Ucluelet’s Amphitrite Point Lighthouse on Thursday, Jan.… Continue reading

Wind warning back in effect around Vancouver Island

80 km/h winds expected Saturday, Jan. 20, on east coast of Island, 100 km/h on west coast

UPDATE: City of Nanaimo senior manager dismissed

Chief operations officer Brad McRae no longer employed by the city

Man receives four-year sentence for stabbing Good Samaritan near Qualicum Beach

Jeffrey Brian MacDonald sentenced to additional 242 days in jail

VIDEO: Thousands join women’s march events across B.C.

Today marks one year since the first Women’s March on Washington

UPDATE: BC Transit’s handyDart service strike delayed

LRB application by contractor means new strike notice must be issued by union

Two Canadians, two Americans abducted in Nigeria are freed

Kidnapping for ransom is common in Nigeria, especially on the Kaduna to Abuja highway

Are you ready for some wrestling? WWE’s ‘Raw’ marks 25 years

WWE flagship show is set to mark its 25th anniversary on Monday

B.C. woman who forged husband’s will gets house arrest

Princeton Judge says Odelle Simmons did not benefit from her crime

Most Read