People are getting medicinal marijuana from dispensaries. (THE NEWS/files)

Liquor distribution for rec pot a good start, say Ridge, Pitt councillors

Who will actually sell the joints remains to be seen

The B.C. Liquor Distribution branch, which distributes whiskey, cranberry vodka shooters and plum brandy, will be in charge of moving recreational marijuana to stores throughout the province.

That is OK with Maple Ridge Coun. Craig Speirs, who used to work in a B.C. liquor store. Speirs agrees with that part of the province’s legislation, announced Tuesday.

The government also announced that 19 will be the minimum age for buying recreational pot when it’s legalized next July.

How exactly recreational marijuana will be sold to consumers, whether it’s through existing public or private liquor stores, or both, or through the existing dispensaries that already sell medicinal marijuana, remains to be seen.

Speirs maintains, though, that marijuana should be sold in a location separate from liquor sales.

He also supports allowing both marijuana dispensaries and liquor stores to sell pot because he’s worried that big companies will move in and squeeze out craft producers of marijuana.

“At least, if it’s in the government liquor stores, there’s some revenue out of it, back into taxes,” said Pitt Meadows Coun. Bruce Bell.

The proposal offers some quality and control and regulation, Bell added.

He also thinks that marijuana could be sold through drugstores.

He noted, the pricing structure still needs figuring out. Pitt Meadows council though hasn’t discussed the issue.

The Alliance of Beverage Licencees of B.C. is “excited and encouraged” by the decision to distribute marijuana through the liquor branch.

“It’s a clear sign that British Columbia is heading in the right direction on cannabis regulation,” said Jeff Guignard. with ABLE B.C.

Solicitor General Mike Farnworth said every other province is following the same approach for wholesale distribution. “And it allows us a significant control, which the public has said is important.”

Former Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge federal Conservative candidate Mike Murray said his party remains opposed to legalizing recreational marijuana, but doubts if his party was elected in Ottawa that it would reverse the legislation.

“In a democracy, if the will of the people moves in a certain way, I think we have to respect that.”

Conservatives still have concerns about the medical effects of marijuana on teens and about controlling impaired driving.

The minimum age of 19 is the same age for drinking or smoking.

“We know the largest consumers of cannabis are young people in that 19- to 30-year-old age range,” said Farnworth. “If you set [the age] to high, at say 25, you’re not going to be able to get rid of that black market.”

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