According to lobbyistsregistrar.bc.ca, Ian Waddell, former BC MLA and MP and now a consultant lobbyist, is lobbying the BC Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General on behalf of a medical cannabis dispensary organization seeking to distribute cannabis products legally.
The Canadian Association of Medical Cannabis Dispensaries (CAMCD) is a Vancouver-based trade member association for medical cannabis dispensaries in Canada that adhere to the group’s Certification Standards. The group represents over 40 dispensaries and compassion clubs across Canada.
Waddell first entered national politics in 1979, being elected to represent the riding of Vancouver Kingsway from 1979-1988 and the riding of Port Moody—Coquitlam between 1988 and 1993. He was then an MLA for Vancouver-Fraserview from 1996-2001.
Under the British Columbia NDP governments of the 1990s, Waddell served as Minister of Small Business, Tourism and Culture and Minister of Environment, Lands and Parks. Waddell has acted as a lobbyist for numerous organizations in the past, but this is his first forray into the cannabis industry. He is also currently consulting on behalf of the British Columbia Wine Institute.
The riding of Vancouver-Kingsway is a not unfamiliar with cannabis issues. The riding has well over a dozen dispensaries operating within its boundaries, some licenced by the city, some not. The current MP in the riding, the NDP’s Don Davies, has held the riding since 2008, and has been making cannabis a major issue through his opposition to some aspects of the Liberals’ proposed Cannabis Act legislation.
Davies says he visits dispensaries in his riding and feels they have a lot of industry knowledge that the committee would benefit from hearing.
“It’s why I know that they have a lot of valuable information to give us,” Davies told Lift in a recent interview. “I’ve toured three dispensaries in Vancouver, and every time I go I’m amazed at how much information and knowledge that they have.”
According to the CAMCD website, the group’s certification program ensures that all certified dispensaries adhere to over 50 additional standards. CAMCD also worked closely with the city of Vancouver on their Medical Marijuana Related Use licensing program.
CAMCD issued their official response to the Standing Committee on Public Health regarding Bill C-45 also known as “the Cannabis Act.”
“While there are many issues to discuss with government regarding the Cannabis Act,” reads a notice from the group’s Vice President, Ehren Richardson, “CAMCD felt that the priority must be to ensure that storefront dispensaries are included in the new regulatory regime to ensure no adverse impact to public health (continuity of access) and to the thousands of jobs currently maintained within the cannabis economy. Without inclusion in the new regulated environment there, CAMCD feels there is no point in addressing other subjects related to distribution.
“Lobbying by special interest groups intended to discredit dispensary services and ban them from the future regulated cannabis distribution economy has been ongoing for some time now. CAMCD hopes that submissions like these can help educate lawmakers and public policy groups and provide them with an evidence-based approach to why existing dispensaries should have a place in the new regulatory framework.”
Many other groups have been lobbying the BC government on the topic of retail stores, including Couche-Tard, Eden Medicinal Society and CTAC. The BC government recently announced their intention to begin a provincial consultation process to come up with a distribution and retail system for non-medical cannabis in British Columbia, but no solid answers on what that system may look like have come out yet.
“We have not yet landed on any decisions around the retail model that will be in place, because I’ve made it clear, there’s different opinions in different parts of the province,” said Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General of British Columbia Mike Farnworth at a recent press conference announcing the province’s consultation process.
“Vancouver has taken one approach, Victoria has taken another approach, but what works in Vancouver may not work in Port Coquitlam or may not work in Prince George or Campbell River or Fort Nelson or Cranbrook. We are open to putting in place a regime that works for the different parts of this province.”
BC Premier John horgan has been careful to use inclusive language that makes references to stakeholders like dispensaries, but has also referred to proliferation of these businesses as a ‘problem,’ as has his new Chief of Staff, Geoff Meggs. Then-Premier Christy Clark attacked Horgan in an election debate for suggesting that cannabis be sold in liquor stores.
“BC is a mature jurisdiction," Horgan said in a recent radio interview with CFAX, "I like to say, when it comes to marijuana. As everyone knows, there’s a lot of marijuana in British Columbia, has been for a long time. We have our neighbours to the north and the south, Alaska and Washington, already legal, I think we can get on this as quickly as possible. I fully intend to meet the July 1st deadline, but there's a lot of people to talk to. There's fear and uncertainty and some anxiety in communities and we want to make sure we ease that and bring in a plan that works for everybody."