For five weeks the residents of British Columbia were able to provide their views on how the legalization and regulation of marijuana will be rolled out in the province and more than 48,000 residents took part in the consultation.
According to a release from the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General, the BC Cannabis Regulation Engagement website saw 127,952 visits from 48,151 community members. These people provided feedback on topics such as minimum age, personal possession limits, public consumption, drug-impaired driving, personal cultivation, and distribution and retail models.
Another 800 opinions were received from a cross-section of British Columbians through a random telephone survey, in addition to another 130 written submissions from from organizations including local governments, school districts, cannabis industry, advocacy groups and law enforcement.
All of this will help the Province choose its regulatory framework for non-medical cannabis, while prioritizing the protection of young people, health and safety, keeping the criminal element out of cannabis and keeping roads safe.
Poll shows 70 per cent want legalization
According to a Insights West poll conducted last month, seven-in-ten B.C. residents support the legalization of marijuana, while only 25 per cent are opposed. This support was found to be highest among men (73 per cent) aged 18-34 (77 per cent), who are residents of Vancouver Island (also 77 per cent) and who voted for the Liberal Party in the 2015 federal election (83 per cent).
The poll also illustrated similar numbers endorsing legalization among those residents of European descent (71 per cent) and those of South Asian descent (79 per cent), but dropped markedly (to 41 per cent) among residents of East Asian descent.
As for other popular “hard” drugs like heroin, ecstasy, power cocaine, crack cocaine, crystal meth and fentanyl, approximately 80 per cent of those surveyed were against the legalization.
Marijuana activists work far from over
Cannabis activists say that while they’ve succeeded in helping to push for marijuana legalization across the country, their work is far from over.
The federal government has committed to making recreational cannabis legal by July 1, 2018, but has tasked provincial governments with establishing their own business and regulatory models that will make the new legislation a reality.
Activists say they need only look at the early versions of provincial plans to find targets for future campaigns.
They say provinces such as Ontario, which plans to levy fines of up to $1 million on businesses that illegally sell recreational weed, are wrong to try and monopolize marijuana sales and should allow storefront dispensaries to operate.
Others say they plan to crusade for medical marijuana users, who they feel are being left behind as legalization moves ahead.
Still more say their efforts will involve pushing for relaxed consumption rules, such as marijuana licenses for restaurants and other public spaces.
While nearly all see the proposed legislative frameworks as flawed, they do believe legalization will allow a previously marginalized group a more prominent place in the conversation around cannabis use.
- With files from The Canadian Press