The decisions made by B.C. leadership were fuelled through a five-week public consultation period that began on Sept. 25 and concluded on Nov. 1. Ultimately, 48,951 British Columbians provided their input.
In a move that mirrors all other provinces, B.C. has made the minimum age to consume marijuana the same as alcohol, which in this case is 19 years old. As well, similar to Alberta and Manitoba, wholesale distribution of cannabis will be handled by the government’s liquor control board, the B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch.
The most awaited news from this announcement was also the most easily predicted, as the province divulged they anticipate a combination of private and public retail opportunities for cannabis products. More information on that point will be coming in early 2018.
“We thank all British Columbians who provided their input during the important public and stakeholder engagement process,” said Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth. “We will continue to consider your opinions as we further develop policy and legislation that is in the best interests of this province.”
An interesting takeaway from the public responses received by the province had less to do with the framework for British Columbia and more to do with the seemingly authoritarian regime that was introduced by the Province of Ontario on Sept. 8.
A report that was released today alongside the announcement said that many British Columbians were explicitly opposed to the idea of a government-retail monopoly, specifically like the one enacted in Ontario. The report added that “most of these individuals preferred to see the existing dispensaries and their supply chain legitimized, licensed, and regulated.”
B.C. is the latest province to officially announce its marijuana distribution and retail plans ahead of the scheduled legalization of cannabis in July 2018. Announcements are still expected from Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and the territory of Nunavut.