The British Columbia Liquor Distribution Branch will be the province’s wholesaler of cannabis when it become legal in Canada next year.
The decision is among several policy changes announced Tuesday designed to regulate how the drug is handled in British Columbia. The policy change was made after the province received input from 48,951 British Columbians and submissions from 141 local and Indigenous governments and a range of other interested stakeholders.
“Looking at the responses received, it’s clear that British Columbians support the priorities of protecting young people, health and safety, keeping the criminal element out of cannabis and keeping roads safe, which will guide the province in developing B.C.’s regulatory framework for non-medical cannabis,” said Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth.
The policy changes will be:
- Minimum age
British Columbia will set the minimum age to possess, purchase and consume cannabis at 19 years old. A minimum age of 19 is consistent with B.C.’s minimum age for alcohol and tobacco and with the age of majority in B.C.
- Wholesale distribution of cannabis
Like other provinces, B.C. will have a government-run wholesale distribution model. The BC Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB) will be the wholesale distributor of non-medical cannabis in B.C.
- Retail of cannabis
The Province anticipates establishing a retail model that includes both public and private retail opportunities and will share details regarding the model in early 2018.
B.C. still has a number of key decisions to make as it prepares for the legalization of cannabis. These decisions will be informed by the feedback collected through the public and stakeholder engagement, and on-going consultation with local and Indigenous governments and other key stakeholders, according to Farnworth.
The move to use the Liquor Distribution Branch is being supported by the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union.
“We applaud the BC government’s decision to warehouse and distribute cannabis through the Liquor Distribution Branch,” said BCGEU president Stephanie Smith, in a press release. “It is the right choice for British Columbians.”
Although the announcement doesn’t provide details about the retail model, the BCGEU has been in partnership with ABLE BC since 2015 to advocate for a distribution and retail system that includes public and private liquor stores as primary retails outlets.
“We are encouraged that the government is seriously considering a public-private retail structure for the sale of cannabis in British Columbia,” said Smith. “B.C.’s public and private liquor stores have a proven track record over many decades, selling controlled alcohol products to adults in a responsible manner. We look forward to seeing the detailed proposal as soon as it is available.”