Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Retail Landscape Revealed in British Columbia's Proposed Pot Laws

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Retail Landscape Revealed in British Columbia's Proposed Pot Laws

Article excerpt

British Columbia tables pot legislation


VICTORIA - The B.C. government has unveiled its plan for regulating the sale of recreational marijuana, in a move that municipalities say gives them welcome breathing room.

Solicitor General Mike Farnworth shed more light on the shifting retail landscape in a trio of bills he introduced Thursday that will, if passed, determine the legal framework for the drug's regulation.

"It puts our province in a position to not only meet the federal deadline, but does so in a way that satisfies our provincial goals to protect children and youth, prioritize public health and safety, keep cannabis out of the hands of criminals, keep our roads safe and protect B.C.'s economic prosperity," Farnworth said.

While the introduction of legislation marks a big step toward regulating recreational pot in B.C., some grey areas remain. Provincial staff are still working on a price point that will stem the black market and British Columbia is hamstrung until the federal government makes decisions on the legality of edibles and impairment detection technology for drivers, he said.

Under the legislation, the province would have jurisdiction over wholesale distribution of cannabis and sales would be allowed to buyers who are at least 19 years old.

But it would be up to each municipality to determine if and where recreational marijuana can be sold, and whether it is sold in private or government stores, or a mix of both.

Provincially run pot shops would operate under the banner B.C. Cannabis Store, similar to the B.C. Liquor Store model. The first government-operated retail store is expected to open by late summer and public sales would also be available online.

Farnworth said a range of products would be sold at public stores, including oils and dried marijuana.

Anyone interested in operating a private store -- including existing dispensaries -- must apply for a licence. Operators must also pass a background check and while minor offences will be overlooked, major criminal offences like trafficking will not.

"There will be comprehensive background checks that look into the whole range of where the money's coming from, who the directors of the company are, is there any link to organized crime," Farnworth said. …

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