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Washington State Tells British Columbia Not to Worry About Legal Weed as Canada Releases Draft Rules

The new regulations would allow a wider range of cannabis products as well as micro-cultivators similar to craft beer breweries.

Image via Flickr user Jay Inslee

The Canadian federal government has released its proposed cannabis regulations ahead of the planned July 2018 deadline to legalize recreational cannabis across the country, reports CBC News. These regulations will control the licensing, tracking and security, and packaging and labelling of recreational cannabis, while also imposing new rules for medical and cosmetic cannabis products. But as the date for legalization draws near, many Canadians have voiced fears over whether legalization will increase crime or increase children's access to the drug. In a recent meeting with British Columbia Premier John Horgan, Washington Governor Jay Inslee advised Canadians to ignore these fear-mongering rumors.

"This proposed regulatory approach is informed by the extensive consultations to date, and it supports our overarching goal of protecting public health and safety," said Canadian Federal Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor in a statement. The regulations would allow a wider range of cannabis products to be sold, in order to discourage users from turning to the black market, stating that, "Additional product forms could include, for example, pre-rolled cannabis and vaporization cartridges manufactured with dried cannabis. Product forms for cannabis oil, such as cannabis oil capsules, oral sprays, and cannabis oil intended for topical application, would continue to be permitted."

The regulations also propose guidelines for the licensing of canna-businesses in the country. In addition to allowing large-scale processing, cultivation, testing, and research facilities, the new rules would also allow micro-cultivators to apply for licenses. These cultivators would be allowed to grow cannabis on a smaller scale, creating artisan strains or products akin to craft beer breweries. Anyone who receives a cannabis license would be required to gain a security clearance from the health minister, who would be allowed to deny such licenses to anyone connected with violent or organized crime.

Although the regulations would prohibit violent offenders from participating in the cannabis industry, the health ministry is seeking the public's opinions on whether or not small-time nonviolent offenders should be allowed to qualify canna-business licenses. "We have over 500,000 Canadians with minor drug offenses on their criminal records," Petitpas Taylor said at a press conference as reported by CBC News. "We're just asking the question: should these people with a small amount of personal possession, should they be excluded from the market or should we consider them."

The government has invited the public to comment on these regulations from now until Jan. 20th, either via an online questionnaire or through a written submission. Although some of the country's residents are still concerned that legalization will boost crime or child usage of marijuana, Washington state Governor Jay Inslee has advised Canadians not to worry about these myths. Inslee told B.C. Premier John Horgan that the “most important” lesson he has learned from legalization “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,” News 1130 reports.

Inslee also offered advice about limiting the number of dispensaries and keeping them away from schools. “The relationship between the retail outlets and growing operations is something you need to pay attention to,” he said. “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.”

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“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 have good education of our young people about this particular material and also, give people a good consumer product that’s safe,” Inslee continued. “We’ve largely, I think, succeeded in those endeavors.”

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