First, the good: dispensary owners with criminal records can apply for a retail licence.
Albeit, we’re far from perfect.
For starters, these dispensaries (some over a decade old) have to apply along with newcomers. Some are already regulated by their municipality, will they have to reapply to the province and pay another licensing fee?
Dispensaries not making the cut will have to change their name. They don’t, according to the government, have any medical value. They will also have to begin supplying from the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch.
The LCLB will supply from licensed producers, including “micro growers” registered with the federal government.
If this is the “good,” then what constitutes bad and ugly?
The bad — no medical dispensaries.
Drawing a distinct (and false) line in the sand between “medical” and “non-medical” cannabis is a divisive issue.
All cannabis is medicinal.
But the BC government demands medical dispensaries drop their medical nomenclature and cater to “recreational” status. There are dubious reasons for this.
Remember it was this medical community of growers that Harper tried to destroy with the MMPR.
It is this medical community of dispensaries that the BC Government is now attempting to eradicate and replace with a “recreational model” they can tax.
Of course, not all medical dispensaries are created equal. But the Horgan government uses the phrase “non-medical cannabis” 43 times in 14 pages of the Cannabis Private Retail Licensing Guide.
But even when you’re physically healthy and using cannabis, you’re using cannabis as a therapeutic device. Otherwise, why use it?
And, of course, all CBD use preventive. It’s a supplement that should be in every individual’s diet.
The government wants to tax cannabis like they do tobacco and alcohol. Instead, they should treat it like the basic grocery item it is and exempt it from sales taxes.
Instead, the government plans to do what’s illegal for private corporations to do in this country: keep your prices at or below the competition, wait until it bankrupts them, then once you’re the only seller left on the market, raise your prices.
Simply, they want to tax people for their medicine. They want to eliminate the “black market” (meaning, BC Bud) and impose mark-up prices like they do with “sin” or excise taxes on alcohol and tobacco.
Which brings us to the ugly — a constitutional challenge.
There’s a constitutional right to reasonable access. As Justice Phelan wrote in the Allard ruling, “dispensaries are at the heart of cannabis access”
And I don’t trust Horgan either.
BC must keep its medicinal credentials. Instead of “conducting a review of the medical cannabis system in five years,” how about a constitutional challenge in the courts tomorrow?