Vaughn Palmer: Pot legislation likely to tie up B.C. cabinet this spring

VICTORIA — While the New Democrats prepare to do their share on marijuana legalization, they are also lobbying Ottawa to preserve the province’s position as one of the leading producers of what has been called B.C.’s largest cash crop.

“The reality is this,” said solicitor-general Mike Farnworth, lead minister on the file for B.C. “We have had in this province an industry that’s been in place for a very long time. Some of it underpins the economy, for example, no surprise, in the Kootenays, certain parts of Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands and the coast.”

B.C. producers hold about a quarter of the five dozen or so of the federally-issued licences for production of medical marijuana. The B.C. New Democrats want that quota preserved and expanded once Canada moves to recreational production.

“Don’t just leave it to a large-scale commercial operator that effectively shuts out small-scale production in B.C.” urged Farnworth during a recent interview with me on Shaw TV’s Voice of B.C.

“You would have to have clear guidelines that there’s no involvement in organized crime or criminal activity. But those small-scale producers — that production already exists. And if we don’t find a way, to bring it in, it is going to continue to exist, and I think that’s a real problem.”

Whereas if all goes well, one can envision regional pot producers having brand-name access to the province’s retail outlets, not unlike craft breweries and wineries today.

Speaking of retail outlets, the New Democrats have “not landed on a model” for those amid continuing consultations with local government.

He believes government liquor stores and established private outlets are well qualified to keep the product out of the hands of children and the business out of the hands of organized crime.

B.C. will also have to accept co-location, where stores sell both liquor and pot unlike …read more

Source:: Vancouver Sun

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