Christy Clark failing to show leadership on cannabis legalization

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BC_Legislature_Buildings_LARGEVICTORIA— A federal government report on marijuana legalization shows that Christy Clark shouldn’t wait till the last minute to deal with pressing issues stemming from impending cannabis legalization in Canada, say B.C. New Democrats.

“We know that cannabis legalization has been promised by the federal government, what we don’t know is why Christy Clark isn’t preparing our province for it,” said New Democrat Leader John Horgan. “The province needs to be prepared if we want to ensure that criminals and the black market don’t benefit from legalized recreational cannabis. We need to have a plan.

“The federal government report on legalization makes it clear provinces need to be working now to ensure the transition to legalized marijuana goes smoothly. It’s likely that provinces are going to be responsible for regulating retail sales and setting age limits. We should be having those conversations now, not waiting until the last minute.”

Horgan sent New Democrat public safety spokesperson Mike Farnworth and New Democrat finance spokesperson Carole James on a fact finding mission to Washington State and Oregon in April, to examine the lessons learned in those two jurisdictions about legalization. They prepared a report on what they found and submitted it to the federal government as part of their fact-finding process.

“There is a tremendous amount of work that provinces can do to prepare and to learn from the lessons we’ve already seen play out in other jurisdictions that have legalized,” said Farnworth. “For example, Washington and Oregon saw an increase in use by minors after legalization. Yet, instead of starting a public education campaign, today, educating the public about the dangers of marijuana use, Christy Clark is spending $15 million on self-promoting and partisan ads.”

James agreed, noting that the Christy Clark government has the wrong priorities.

“A responsible government takes steps to ensure they are prepared for changes they know are coming,” said James. “Right now, communities are already having difficulty managing grey-area dispensaries in the absence of provincial leadership. There are things Christy Clark could do today to show communities and families that the province is prepared for legalization. It’s concerning that she isn’t willing to take action.”

Ontario already has 12 government departments examining legalization, noted Horgan, while the Christy Clark government sits on their hands.

“Real leadership is about planning ahead, and anticipating problems before they happen, not sitting back and hoping someone else solves your problems for you,” said Horgan. “On marijuana legalization, just like so many other topics, Christy Clark is simply not working for British Columbians.”