Marijuana is grown for medical use, with production set to expand as recreational use is legalized. (Black Press files)

Use marijuana revenue for drug treatment, Todd Stone says

B.C. Liberal leadership candidate calls for dedicated fund

B.C.’s share of tax from recreational marijuana sales should be directed to drug treatment, research and education for young people, B.C. Liberal leadership candidate Todd Stone says.

Stone announced the proposal after visiting two addiction recovery facilities in Metro Vancouver Tuesday. Revenues would be directed to harm reduction and addiction recovery programs, expanding abstinence-based “12-step” programs similar to Narcotics Anonymous, and law enforcement efforts to keep young people away from drugs and organized crime.

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Stone also proposes an all-party committee of MLAs to hear from “global experts” in dealing with addiction. B.C. has struggled with a rising number of overdoses as fentanyl and other potent opioids have been smuggled in from Asia.

The proposal does not include provincial sales tax collected from retail marijuana sales, which Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth has indicated will be handled by a mix of private dispensaries and government liquor stores when Ottawa legalizes recreational sales, expected later this year.

It’s not yet clear how much provinces would collect from wholesale distribution of marijuana, which B.C. intends to control through its monopoly Liquor Distribution Branch. Funds would include B.C.’s share of a new federal excise tax, and any revenues from wholesale and retail sales.

B.C. Liberal Party members vote for a new leader in early February.

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