The provincial government has given itself just over five weeks to gather input from municipalities, the public and other stakeholders about non-medical cannabis regulation in B.C.
It’s an ambitious deadline, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth conceded on Monday during the Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) conference in Vancouver as he announced the province’s plans for public consultations.
The goal is to collect feedback in time to draft legislation for the spring legislative session and be ready when the federal government legalizes marijuana next July.
“This is a critical issue for British Columbia and British Columbians, and we’re operating on a very tight timeline — July of 2018 is not that far away,” said Farnworth.
The province will gather input from as many interested parties as possible.
Farnworth said they will form a standing committee on cannabis legalization with the UBCM comprised of representatives and technical experts from both the union and the province.
He called the committee “absolutely critical” to getting buy-in from local governments and learning the municipal point of view on issues such as retail systems, zoning and licensing, revenue sharing, enforcement and education.
“Local governments welcome the start of the consultation process as we move toward creating a made-in-B.C. approach to legalization,” said UBCM president Murry Krause. “Our members want to discuss issues like taxation, retail sales and personal cultivation in advance of the regulatory framework being set in place. The proposed standing committee sounds like a vehicle to support discussions.”
A website has been set up for members of the public to visit and submit their opinions, and a random telephone survey will be conducted.