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Cannabis rules too important to rush: Morris

Prince George-Mackenzie Liberal candidate Mike Morris. Bill Phillips photo
Prince George-Mackenzie MLA Mike Morris.

Prince George-Mackenzie MLA Mike Morris says the province’s regulations around the upcoming legalization of cannabis come up short.

The proposed Cannabis Distribution Act (CDA) will establish the province’s exclusive jurisdiction over wholesale distribution of cannabis, and provide authority for public retail sales.

The proposed Cannabis Control and Licensing Act (CCLA) establishes provincial control over the sale, supply and possession of non-medical cannabis, and establishes licensing of private cannabis retailers, including registration and training requirements for those who will work in cannabis retail. The act outlines restrictions on the possession, personal cultivation and consumption of cannabis by adults and prohibitions for minors.

“The BC Liberal focus has always been public safety,” said Morris. “Most importantly, we want to ensure children aren’t exposed to cannabis or have packaging specifically designed to market to them, and that criminals aren’t able to benefit from selling it.  We also believe municipalities should have the ability to prohibit sales if they choose.”

The act includes a compliance and enforcement regime to ensure legalization of non-medical cannabis protects children and youth, prioritizes public health and safety, keeps cannabis out of the hands of criminals and keeps roads safe, according to a government news release. A key component of this enforcement regime will be a new community safety unit that will target illegal sellers.

“Legalizing cannabis is very complex and too important to rush – but we’re only months away from federal legislation and we’re just now getting the first glimpse at an implementation plan,” said Morris. “As we’ve seen throughout this session, the NDP have demonstrated a consistent track record with rushed, flawed legislation.”

He added the Liberals going to carefully examine the bills through several lenses including public safety, land use, taxation, and distribution and have a thorough discussion in caucus.

Amendments to the Motor Vehicle Act (MVA) will address drug-affected driving in British Columbia. A first phase of proposed amendments to the MVA will provide police with additional tools to remove drug-affected drivers from the road.

“The legislation introduced today provides a sound foundation for the regulation and safe implementation of legalized cannabis in British Columbia,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “This marks a major milestone, and puts our province in position to not only be ready for federal cannabis legalization in late summer, but does so in a way that reflects the Province’s goals for legalized cannabis that prioritize public health and safety, particularly for our children and youth.”

The legislature will now take time to debate and review the proposed pieces of legislation, before they are finalized and passed into law. Provincial implementation timelines are dependent upon the proposed federal legislation receiving royal assent.

In anticipation of federal legalization, the Province will focus on the development of the regulations and supporting policies to prepare for the legalization of non-medical cannabis in British Columbia. Prior to legalization, Government will also launch public awareness and education campaigns related to the health impacts of cannabis use and the risks of drug-affected driving.

Additionally, the Liquor Distribution Branch, B.C.’s wholesale distributor of non-medical cannabis, is expected to open the first government-operated retail store by late summer, and is working to implement an e-commerce solution to offer online sales to the public. The brand identity and logo for BC Cannabis Stores, developed in-house, will be featured on store fronts and within print material.

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