Marijuana legalization could mean closure for many B.C. pot shops, province says
Minister says pot shops will have to meet the province's distribution requirements
With marijuana legalization about to become a reality across Canada, the provincial government says it is not sure what taxes and distribution will look like in B.C. but warns many of the current pot shops in the province may not meet their requirements.
A federal task force appointed by the federal government to study how marijuana could be legalized and regulated in Canada released a report Tuesday with more than 80 recommendations.
- Highlights from the federal marijuana task force report
- Pot task force recommends legal cannabis sales be limited to users 18 and over
Distribution by province
B.C Public Safety Minister Mike Morris said the provincial government welcomes the report. He said one of the recommendations of particular interest is the distribution of cannabis — which the task force recommended be regulated by provinces and territories.
"It's early in the process. We haven't determined what a distribution model will look like, but I am assuming that most of those will have to conform to whatever requirements we put out at the end of the day," Morris said.
"I can see many of them shutting down."
However, when asked if recreational marijuana could be sold alongside medical marijuana in dispensaries, Morris said it was too early to say.
Jodie Emery, a prominent Vancouver marijuana activist and owner of Cannabis Culture, said she is concerned that "big corporate cannabis" could come in and push out the smaller stores that have been around for years.
She said she also hopes that stores and growers could be brought into the new framework, once it is in place.
"Everybody who suffered from prohibition should be allowed to be able to transfer into the new industry without penalties existing for the rest of their lives," she told CBC News.
"My concern is that law enforcement will continue … and we'll see small-time growers excluded from the legal industry that they helped build in the first place."
Morris said the province has been exploring what the legalization of marijuana could look like in B.C.
"We've had a committee of assistant deputy ministers working on this file for several months now. They've toured some of the jurisdictions in North America that have already legalized marijuana," he said.
"We're learning from a lot of their actions so far, so this [task force report] gives us little bit of traction in how we move forward and how we address the distribution at some point in time in future."
The task force also recommended that the federal government work with provincial and territorial governments to determine a tax regime that includes the equitable distribution of revenues.
Morris said it is also too early to tell what kind of tax regime the province would bring in if marijuana is legalized and the amount of revenue that could be generated.
"Whatever tax regime we bring in, we have to make sure that it's not going to promote the illicit distribution of cannabis across British Columbia or Canada."
The federal government said earlier this year that it will introduce legislation in the spring of 2017 to legalize recreational marijuana.
Vancouver and Victoria have brought in laws to license and regulate marijuana dispensaries. Penticton has also licensed some dispensaries.