Article by Andea Woo, The Globe And Mail
Premier John Horgan has hinted again that British Columbia’s growing number of illegal marijuana dispensaries could have a role to play when recreational use of the drug is made legal next summer.
Mr. Horgan, who in the past has voiced support for bringing existing operators on board, seemed to suggest on Tuesday that B.C.’s robust marijuana industry means the province is already well-positioned to begin legal retail sales by the federal government’s July 1 target.
“We have, in some parts of the Lower Mainland, more dispensaries than we do Starbucks,” the Premier told reporters in Ottawa as he headed into a meeting of first ministers.
“We are well-advanced in terms of the retail elements of this. The challenges, of course, are on regulation and distribution in a more thoughtful way.”
Mr. Horgan’s comment comes as provinces and territories scramble to sort out the details of what legalization will look like, as Ottawa has left the contentious issues of regulating wholesale distribution and retail to them.Some jurisdictions, as well as police forces, have asked for the date to be pushed back.
Ontario became the first province to issue its plan last month, announcing that the province would launch a monopoly of cannabis stores as a subsidiary of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario – 40 next year and 150 by 2020 – in a move that would effectively end private dispensaries.
“Let me be clear: These pot dispensaries are illegal and will be shut down,” Ontario Attorney-General Yasir Naqvi told reporters. “If you operate one of these facilities, consider yourself on notice.”