B.C. public safety minister says cannabis edibles not in stores til January

Mike Farnworth says he wants regional issues considered when it comes to licensing

Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth speaks to media about how non-medical cannabis will be regulated in the province during a press conference in the press gallery at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday February 5, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

B.C.’s solicitor general says the province wants to see as much small-scale production as possible for marijuana edibles to allow for regional economic development.

“I don’t want it to be dominated by one or two large-scale variety of producers,” Mike Farnworth said Friday. “I think there’s room in this market for a considerable variety or product and a considerable variety of producers.”

He said that while provinces are responsible for retail operations and enforcement, the licensed production of cannabis, including edibles, is decided by the federal government, and any changes to regulations will become apparent if a new government takes office after Monday’s federal election.

“What we want to do is work with the federal government,” he told a news conference. “We’ll be watching very closely after Monday to see whether in fact the landscape as it relates to cannabis is going to change.”

Given the size of B.C.’s longtime marijuana industry in many small communities, particularly in the Kootenays, Farnworth said he’d like to see regional issues considered when it comes to licensing.

He said edibles will be not sold in liquor stores, but the province is interested in considering farm-to-gate sales, particularly involving small-scale producers.

While edibles, oils, topicals, hash and other cannabis goods became legal on Thursday, Farnworth said they would not be available until January.

The delay is because producers must provide 60 days notice to Health Canada of their intention to sell the products.

At least 36 marijuana stores have been closed in the province for illegally selling their products since the legalization marijuana a year ago, Farnworth said.

He said a 44-member community safety team based in various parts of the province, including Prince George, Surrey and Kelowna, have been cracking down on retailers.

READ MORE: Health concerns over vaping cast haze over Canadian cannabis market expansion

“We were very clear right from the beginning that as more and more legal stores are open enforcement by the community safety team will clearly be ramping up,” he said.

“After all, it’s only fair that those stores that are abiding by the rules, that are paying their fair share of taxes, don’t have their competitive advantage undermined by stores that are operating illegally.”

One year after legalization, he says 144 private cannabis retail store licences have been issued and 33 are approved in principle, while 10 government-owned stores will be operating by the end of the year.

Camille Bains, The Canadian Press

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