The B.C. government will consult the public on aspects of marijuana legalization that fall under the province’s control, Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth announced Monday.
From now until Nov. 1, people can go to this website to voice their opinions on how the government can keep “young people, neighbourhoods and roads safe” once the drug becomes legal next year.
It’s up to the provinces and territories to decide how to regulate the distribution and retail sales of marijuana, as well as how to enforce marijuana impairment on the road.
“We are doing everything we can to make sure we meet the July timeline,” Farnworth told reporters, referring to when Ottawa is expected to change the law. The results of this public consultation won’t be available until the spring.
“It’s a tight timeline. We’ve asked for more time… I’d like to have more time, but every statement we’ve heard from the feds says no, July is the date.”
He emphasized the importance of giving municipalities a chance to be heard.
“One size does not fit all,” said Farnworth, noting the opinions of cities outside of the Lower Mainland are often overlooked when senior governments implement new policies.
“This is not about bringing in a revenue stream for the province,” he added. “If that’s how provinces are approaching it, they’re making a big mistake.”
Farnworth, who visited Washington State and Oregon with Finance Minister Carol James to learn about experiences there, said both states were emphatic about how much money legalization will cost long before it brings in any cash.
Vancouver city councillor Kerry Jang, who was also at the announcement, concurred.
“Even Colorado and Washington have been lowering their [marijuana] tax rates because although they’re getting money, it doesn’t matter; there’s still a black market,” said Jang. “You’re not achieving your public health goals.”
No agreement has been made yet, Farnworth added, for revenue sharing between federal, provincial and municipal governments.