Washington State’s Governor says Canada has little to fear about cannabis legalization, after a historic visit to BC yesterday.
Governor Jay Inslee visited with BC Premier John Horgan on Tuesday to discuss climate change, cross border trade, transportation infrastructure, and more.
After the meeting, according to NEWS 1130, Inslee said that Canada can learn from the examples of states like Washington or Colorado, which have seen success with legalizing cannabis, and had few negative impacts, despite fears by many.
“I think there are some instructive lessons from Washington state,” Inslee told NEWS 1130. “Perhaps the most important is that the fears that many had about rampant, youthful use of marijuana if it was decriminalized have not been realized in the state of Washington, and that’s the most comforting news.”
“We have demonstrated, as has Colorado, relative success in being able to decriminalize and not choke our criminal justice system with criminal infractions, but rather have a well-regulated system that can offer good education to our young people about this particular material and also give people a good consumer product that’s safe. We’ve largely, I think, succeeded in those endeavours.”
Washington state’s approach to legalization has been a part of the debate around Canada’s own legalization legalization, the Cannabis Act, as it makes its way through the House.
Conservative MP Marilyn Gladu has repeatedly referenced Washington as a success at legalizing cannabis because they banned homegrown. Gladu says this restriction has helped keep cannabis out of the hands of kids and organized crime. Conservatives in the House have sought to ban all home growing.
“Washington state did not allow home grow,” the MP from Sarnia—Lambton, ON, said recently in the House, “and we see that it had the best outcomes in terms of reducing organized crime, which is down to less than 20%, and in making it difficult for people under the age of 21 to actually get hold of cannabis, which is actually the goal of this legislation.”
A group calling itself Doctors in BC have said they don’t support home grown cannabis, and Quebec and has suggested they will not allow personal cultivation in their province. BC has not issued any regulations as of yet, but Gladu says the federal government has failed by even giving provinces the choice to regulate home grows or not.
“Doctors of BC is calling for the province of B.C. to not allow home grow. Add that voice to Quebec that will not allow home grow, to New Brunswick that recognizes it is a problem and wants people to lock up their marijuana, and the other 10 provinces and territories that have come with no plan. Therefore, it is clear that they recognize that home grow does not meet the requirements stated in the bill. It does not ensure a quality-controlled supply. It does not get rid of organized crime. It does not unload the criminal justice system. It does not keep it out of the hands of children”
Inslee says the real concern is managing sales and distribution.
“Things that we’ve learned along the way is paying attention to the amount of distribution outlets. The relationship between the retail outlets and growing operations is something you need to pay attention to. We’ve had to change some of our rules in that regard. Our retail limitations to keep retail outlets away from schools was a good idea and has been largely successful.”
Although Premier Horgan has called dispensary proliferation a problem, BC has said they are open to considering letting some municipalities regulate existing cannabis dispensaries. Cities like Vancouver and Victoria have already begun the process of regulating their own illicit cannabis stores using zoning regulations that keep the businesses away from schools, community centres, and even other dispensaries.
They have also said they are not opposed to looking at co-location of cannabis in existing liquor stores.
Featured image by Steve Voght.