B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth talks pot with reporters at a presser in Surrey. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)

Farnworth says five years too long for feds to deal with organized crime in medical pot

Needs to be dealt with much sooner than that, B.C. Public Safety Minister says

Provincial Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth says five years is too long to wait for the federal government to deal with organized crime’s infiltration into Canada’s medical marijuana industry.

“I am concerned about the role of organized crime in the production of medical marijuana, particularly we’ve seen around the Hells Angels and the use of the medical marijuana licences, and I think it’s an issue that should be concerning the federal government,” Farnworth told reporters at a press conference in Surrey this past Friday.

“I think it’s unacceptable that organized crime has been able to infiltrate on the medical marijuana production side,” said Farnworth, who is also B.C.’s solicitor general. “I know the federal government has said they intend to address the issue of medical marijuana, changes and reforms within five years, I think that’s far too long. I think it needs to be dealt with much sooner that that.

READ ALSO: Province’s $6.5M will help women escape violence, Public Safety Minister announces in Surrey

READ ALSO: B.C. government marijuana stores will compete with private sellers

Farnworth said the challenge “of course” is that medical marijuana is solely regulated by the federal government and as a result the legislation the provincial government will be tabling “is only able to deal with the recreational legalization of recreational cannabis because that’s what the federal government is legalizing.

“Medical marijuana will still be governed by existing federal regulation, federal rules and until that changes, we can only deal with the recreational side of things,” he said.

Meantime, the government minister said he intends to introduced legislation as early as the week of April 23rd concerning recreational pot use.

“There are significant changes, obviously, that are going to be happening in the coming weeks with new legislation and legalization that’s taking place at the federal level and so that I expect that is obviously going to have an impact on the events such as 4/20 in the coming years,” he said.

“I’m expecting to be introducing legislation next week, I know that it will be introduced next week,” he said on Friday, April 20th. “We’re also looking forward to the final version of the federal legislation that we know is scheduled to be passed on June 7. There may be amendments that we’re not aware, we’re not sure of yet. We’re still waiting to see what the final bill looks like at the federal level, C-45, and of course Bill C-46, the impaired driving legislation is also waiting to be dealt with by the Senate. Obviously we’re have to wait and see what those amendments are.”

READ ALSO: 4-20: Pot activists continue their fight beyond legalization

Farnworth said B.C.’s NDP government will be looking closely at what the federal government does. “Of course, whatever they decide impacts us because we are operating within the federal government’s framework on the legislation the province will need to put into place.”

So where will the provincial government allow recreational pot to be sold here in B.C.?

“We’ve launched a public consultation process, with local government for example, on the retail system,” Farnworth told reporters. “The details of course will be in our legislation but we have made it clear that local communities will get a say in what kind of stores will be operating in their community, so for example it could be a government store, it could be a private store — some communities have said they don’t want any store, and we’re okay with that as well; we’re not going to be ramming stores down any community’s throat.”

Farnworth said hurdles will have to be jumped. “In order to have a retail outlet, you are going to have to get local government approval. If you don’t get local government approval, you will not be getting provincial government approval.”



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

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