The provincial government is finally ready to hear from British Columbians about cannabis legalization.
This morning, Solicitor General Mike Farnworth announced the government's plan to engage with the public about the province’s responsibilities as laid out by Bill C-45.
Farnworth made the announcement this morning at the Union of B.C. Muncipalities (UBCM) Convention in Downtown Vancouver.
Accompanied by Vancouver city councilor Kerry Jang, he told the media that while B.C. was "playing a little bit of catch-up" in light of the provincial election and delay in forming government, policy makers were working to have provincial legislation ready in time for July 2018.
The next step, he said, would be a public consultation and engagement process.
In addition to an online survey offered to the general public, he said that the provincial government would create a working group comprised of provincial representatives and "technical experts" to help create a framework for distribution and retail storefronts.
"In B.C., there is a well-established industry and we want to make sure that whatever framework is put in place in terms of distribution and retail, that we hear from the industry and all the affected groups," Farnworth said.
"We'll be targeting sectorial meetings with cross-sections of the industry... to get a full understanding of the views of British Columbians on legalization."
Farnworth called the date "ambitious" but said the province plans to wrap up consultations by November 1, so that provincial legislation can be developed in time for the spring session of the legislature in February 2018.
When asked by a reporter if there is a possibility for licensed dispensaries in cities like Vancouver and Victoria to be integrated into the province's framework, Farnworth said that while it was something the government was looking at, it couldn't decide on what that integration might look like until the federal legislation around production is finalized.
Jang called the consultation a fantastic opportunity for municipalities to engage at a provincial level.
"The diversity of opinion and thought is all over the place, and we really need to come up with a made-in-B.C. solution, and one that speaks to different municipalities differently," he said.
When asked about dispensaries by another reporter, Farnworth emphasized that while some muncipalities might be interested in a dispensary model, others might not.
"We need to hear from all the governments on the kind of retail model that they have," he said. "The key question of this, from my perspective, is that whatever retail model we have in place is a legal model, using legal product."
Want to tell the government what you think? Submit your feedback by November 1, 2017 at 4 p.m.