Friday, February 26, 2016 


Maybe Marijuana?

BC NDP showing interest in legal pot stateside

Sheena McConnell, NDP Caucus


NDP party leader James Horgan is sending Victoria-Beacon Hill MLA Carole James (right) and MLA for Port Coquitlam (below) to look at how Americans are selling pot.


ew Democrat Leader John Horgan has asked two of his key spokespeople to investigate the management of legal marijuana sales in Washington and Oregon.


Horgan said the recent election of a federal government committed to legalization means British Columbians expect their representatives to prepare and to be informed on this issue.


"Christy Clark's government is sitting back and waiting for the federal government on this issue.  We can see the result when we look at the proliferation of dispensaries in communities around the province. British Columbia needs to be working with communities and with the federal government.  These decisions are being made right now, and they're being made without us," said Horgan, who has tasked finance spokesperson Carole James and public safety spokesperson Mike Farnworth to undertake the research.


"British Columbians deserve to have a say in how marijuana is legalized. They want to make sure we do this right, so that the safety and health of young people and of our communities come first. We have neighbours who started down this road some years ago, and we can learn from them," said Horgan.


Horgan said the two MLAs will be looking into the mechanics of legalization and regulation, ranging from the protection of young people, to road safety, to advertising and the control of potency.


“We need to do all we can to protect communities from the kind of haphazard implementation they're seeing today. Failing to learn all we can from our neighbours would be an opportunity missed."


James and Farnworth will report on their findings when they return.


See the letter from John Horgan to James and Farnworth below.



Dear Mike Farnworth and Carole James,


As the Official Opposition spokespersons on Public Safety and Finance, I am writing to ask that you undertake, early this year, a fact-finding tour to the United States to get a first-hand look at jurisdictions that have legalized marijuana.


The current proliferation of marijuana dispensaries has raised the issue of regulatory and statutory authority over this substance in BC. The recent election of a federal government committed to the legalization and regulation of marijuana means British Columbians expect an informed and thoughtful approach from their representatives.


The United States has taken the lead on this issue: the use of both recreational and medicinal marijuana has been entirely legalized in the states of Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington, as well as the District of Columbia.


While Colorado was the first US state to legalize marijuana, Washington and Oregon are our close neighbours and most similar to British Columbia. All three have taken somewhat different approaches to legalization and are at different stages of implementation, and therefore a review would be very instructive for our purposes.


In particular, I would like you to review these elements:


• Rules regarding cultivation, public consumption, distribution, advertising and retail, including any specific provisions related to medicinal vs. recreational usage

• Regulations concerning potency and allowable forms of marijuana

• Age limits and measures to protect children and youth from harm

• Road safety initiatives, DUI standards and fines

• Health initiatives

• Municipal zoning issues

• Models for distribution of revenues for public good


I expect that you will compile a report of your findings on your return and share this with our Caucus.


Yours sincerely,

John Horgan, Leader

New Democrat Official Opposition




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