(File photo)

B.C. eagerly anticipating federal pot law; NDP, Greens prepare policy

B.C. looks to score big from legal marijuana

After decades as a marijuana renegade, British Columbia is eagerly anticipating the federal government’s bill legalizing marijuana.

Growing marijuana has become a backyard tradition in B.C. and the number of medical marijuana dispensaries in Vancouver and Victoria rival Tim Horton’s outlets. Politicians, entrepreneurs and ordinary citizens are convinced marijuana offers unprecedented economic, social and health opportunities as Ottawa gets ready to introduce its legislation.

READ: Sell legal marijuana in stores and through the mail, says task force

Vancouver-based Tantalus Labs, which grows medical marijuana in greenhouses, released a report this month that said the industry could create 15,000 jobs in B.C.

It said B.C.’s illegal marijuana market provides 40 per cent of Canada’s black market and is worth $2.7 billion, with 85 per cent of that going to organized crime.

Dan Sutton, executive director at Tantalus, said he’s worried B.C. is lagging behind Nova Scotia, Ontario and Alberta in developing a legal marijuana industry and could lose out.

“B.C. bud is a household name, globally,” said Sutton. “We have a storied cultural history associated with cannabis and it’s time for us to leverage that brand.”

None of B.C.’s provincial political parties have touted marijuana legalization in the May 9 election campaign, he said.

NDP Leader John Horgan said he supports legalization. “I’ve been thinking about it a lot,” he said in a recent interview.

Horgan has studied marijuana policy and the opportunities from legalizing the drug.

Last year, he sent two of his most senior caucus members, Carole James and Mike Farnworth, to Washington and Oregon to view how those states implemented and adapted to legal marijuana use and sales.

“We need to be prepared here in B.C.,” Horgan said.

Horgan said he’s met with the B.C. Government Service Employees Union about marijuana sales. The union has 4,000 members at government-run liquor stores and provincial liquor distribution outlets.

He’s also met with operators of private beer and wine stores, pharmacies, marijuana dispensaries and craft beer brewers.

“We need to find a way, a (sales and distribution) model that, I think, is a hybrid of all those things,” Horgan said.

He said he supports the sale of marijuana for recreational users at government liquor stores.

Stephanie Smith, the union’s president, said it has formed an alliance with private liquor store operators to lobby for the distribution and sales rights of recreational marijuana at their outlets. The union has met with B.C.’s Liberal government and the NDP, she said.

There are 198 government liquor stores and about 670 private stores in B.C.

Liberal Leader Christy Clark said she has three concerns about marijuana once it becomes legal: she wants organized crime out of the business, assurances that legal marijuana is safe and of high quality, and that it’s kept away from children.

Clark said in an interview last week she doesn’t want people to believe that there are no risks associated with smoking pot because the government has legalized it.

“Just like alcohol, it’s got a lot of harms associated with it, so I want to make sure we do everything we can to keep it out of the hands of kids.”

Green Leader Andrew Weaver said the Greens will support marketing opportunities for B.C. craft marijuana growers.

“We will fight very hard to ensure that the big multinationals do not step in and take up the market,” he said.

Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

What you see …

If you have a recent photo to share email it to editor@trailtimes.ca

Storm the Stairs and Trail Kidney Walk this weekend

Grapevine: Events in the Trail area for the week of Sept. 20 to Sept. 26

Kootenay Robusters end 18th paddling season

Women of Trail, Castlegar, Rossland, Christina Lake and Grand Forks came together in 2001

Military exercises may be audible in Trail

The exercises will be conducted in the Trail area from Thursday to Sunday

Council rollover inspires crop of hopeful politicians

Fourteen people vying for six council seats

Watch out for Pavement Patty: Drivers warned outside B.C. elementary school

New survey reveals unsafe school zones during 2018 back-to-school week

Tent city campers now allowed to stay in B.C. provincial park

Contrary to earlier reports, Ministry of Environment says there is no deadline for campers to leave Greater Victoria camp site

Former VP of lululemon joins B.C. cannabis cultivation facility

Kerry Biggs will be the Chief Financial Officer of True Leaf, in Lumby

Could cannabis help keep people in B.C. on treatment for opioid addiction?

People on opioid agonist treatment face lower risks of overdosing, BC Centre on Substance Use says

Around the BCHL – Trail Smoke Eater grad to captain NCAA Michigan Tech Huskies

Around the BCHL is a regular look at the BCHL and goings-on throughout the junior A world.

WHL season set to kick off in Cranbrook

Kootenay Ice gearing up for another campaign with youthful roster

Thieves escape after man claims his wife is giving birth

RCMP searching for suspects in brazen daytime break in

Rural Canada Post carriers could see 25-per-cent pay hike: spokesman

An arbitrator has released a ruling in a long-standing pay equity dispute at Canada Post

7th day of searching for missing plane between Edmonton and Chilliwack

Search efforts are concentrated along the Highway 5 corridor between Valemount and Kamloops

Most Read