(File photo)

ELECTION 2017: No firm stance on marijuana from the three B.C. parties

Federal legislation leaves distribution and enforcement up to provinces

Third in a series of Black Press B.C. election coverage leading up to May 9

None of B.C. main political parties have unveiled firm plans for how marijuana will be regulated despite Ottawa proposing legalization by Canada Day 2018.

The BC Liberals have long said that their main focus is keeping marijuana out of the hands of minors.

“The federal government has set 18 as the bottom line,” Liberal leader Christy Clark said during the News1130 radio debate. “You can’t get liquor till you’re 19, for heaven’s sake let’s at least put it at 19.”

Clark has spoken out against selling pot in liquor stores.

“Should it be co-located to liquor stores? I don’t think so,” said Clark. “No one does that in the United States and you don’t want these two intoxicants sitting beside each other on the shelf.”

The BC Liberal leader drew criticism from BC Green Party leader Andrew Weaver for not being better prepared.

“We’ve thought about this for years while the premier has stood by and done nothing,” he said.

Clark said that the BC Liberals will consult experts before deciding how it will be distributed.

The proposed federal law leaves impaired driving enforcement and distribution up to the provinces. A legalization task force released a report in December that recommended storefront distribution as an option, but warned against selling in liquor stores.

READ: Battle over future of legal marijuana in B.C. just starting

In SFU professor Robert Gordon’s view, marijuana will likely be sold in separate stores.

“I think marijuana stores are the likely route,” said Gordon. “They’re aware of the need to regulate the access to the stuff on the part of adolescents and having a good taxation payment system in place.”

Gordon doesn’t see an issue in continuing current dispensaries, which currently operate illegally despite cities like Vancouver, Victoria and Port Alberni choosing to licence them.

“It’s perfectly doable and safely so,” said Gordon. “We’re got our neighbours to the south as a model.”

In the U.S., recreational marijuana is legal in Alaska, Washington State, California, Oregon, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada.

READ: Legalizing pot won’t help at U.S. border, says immigration lawyer

In 2016, Horgan sent NDP MLAs Mike Farnworth and Carole James south of the border to speak with Washington State and Oregon officials on how different distribution channels were performing.

“I’ve talked to pharmacies, I’ve talked to distributors of other drugs in the community, I’ve talked to dispensaries and I’ve also talked to the liquor distribution folks to see what is the best way to proceed,” Horgan said. “I would suggest it’s probably going to be a mix.”

Although the proposed federal legislation allows for up to four metre-high plants at home, Gordon sees most marijuana production switching to larger-scale production.

“We’ll see that continue to a certain point or move openly into greenhouses,” he said, pointing to post-secondary institutions such as Kwantlen Polytechnic University, which already has a course on medicinal growing. “It’s not going to be fields of waving cannabis.”

Weaver is concerned that Ottawa’s proposed bill will concentrate the profit from legalization with large corporations.

“We view the craft cannabis industry in a manner that’s identical to the craft beer industry,” said Weaver.

SFU professor Neil Boyd believes that Clark’s approach, rather than selling in liquor stores, will be the one taken regardless of who ends up in power on May 9.

“I think the NDP has suggested that the liquor store approach is what they would follow,” said Boyd. “It’s a bit surprising because in every other jurisdiction we have seen a store distinct from a liquor store.”

@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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

Horvat leads Canucks to 4-3 shootout victory over Kings

Vancouver dumps L.A. in NHL pre-season contest

Update: Search called off for missing plane between Edmonton and Chilliwack

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

Why Whistler for ski jumping in 2026? Calgary proposal gets pushback

Calgary 2026 proposes re-using the 2010 ski jumping venue Whistler for that sport and nordic

Despite progress, threat of 232 tariffs dominates NAFTA negotiations

Any deal is seen to require congressional approval before Dec. 1 to survive new Mexican government

VIDEO: Hundreds line highway as family brings home body of B.C. teen

Northern B.C. showed their support by lining Hwy 16 as Jessica Patrick’s body returned to Smithers.

B.C. MP Todd Doherty receives award for saving man who collapsed on a plane

Conservative MP was flying from Vancouver to Prince George, B.C., in June last year

Alleged border jumper from Oregon facing 2 charges after police chase in B.C.

Colin Patrick Wilson charged with dangerous operation of motor vehicle, flight from a peace officer

More than 35 B.C. mayors elected without contest

No other candidates for mayor in the upcoming local election in 22 per cent of B.C. cities

Most Read