Participants in the cannabis legalization forum held in Kelowna today included (from left) Kevin Poole, manager of economic development and tourism for City of Vernon; Dan Rogers, Kelowna Chamber of Commerce executive director; and David Purcell, director of emerging business for Kwantlen Polytechnic University. Photo: Barry Gerding/Capital News

Legalizing cannabis a monumental shift

Tourism and business leaders need regulatory direction

The process of making pot-production and sales a legitimate industry can best be described as “hurry up and wait,” said the City of Vernon manager of economic development and tourism.

Kevin Poole says the regulatory framework for a legalized cannabis industry being developed by federal and provincial governments has raised many cost issues for their civic counterparts, and has raised questions ranging from how to train and educate the industry workforce to tourism marketing opportunities.

“This industry will be about creating partnerships and right now the provincial government is a bit slow out of the gate on developing a framework for how this is going to unfold,” Poole said.

Related: Canadians favour marijuana legalization

Poole was one of the featured speakers at a forum held in Kelowna today, organized by the National Institute for Cannabis Health and Education.

Poole said he receives an email inquiry almost daily about opening a dispensary, something his city council has put on hold until the regulatory framework is finalized.

“I just have to keep telling people we are not there yet,” Poole said.

Some regulatory and financial decisions have been made. Health Canada has developed regulations on the production side and public safety education initiatives to deal with legalize marijuana, and has agreed to a 70-30 split with the provinces and territories on marijuana tax revenue sharing, said Mike McGuire, director of operations for Health Canada cannabis legalization and regulation branch.

Access will be restricted from youths under the age 18, although some provinces have raised that age to 19, and legal possession will be defined as 30 grams for an individual and up to four plants in a residence.

He said policy on edibles and public consumption is expected to formulated over the next year.

Adoption of Bill C-45, the Cannabis Act, is now before both the House of Commons and the Senate, McGuire said, with a vote in Parliament expected on June 7.

At the provincial level, a joint committee has been established to address provincial and municipal issues related to legalizing pot, most notably starting with how much of the province’s 70 per cent revenue share will be shared at the civic government level.

The province has already indicated a hybrid system where government and private sector dispensaries will be allowed to operate, with the government controlling the provincial distribution of marijuana similar to how it currently controls liquor distribution.

All this leaves tourism and education boosters developing new ideas on how to address pot-industry labour needs and entrepreneur demands.

For example, said Poole, the idea of starting pot production tours similar to wine tours commonly is raised, but that will depend on the legislative limitations of possession and use in public.

“What I have noticed from legalizing in Colorado is it is legal to sell within their state, but it is still federally illegal in the U.S., so they can do little to promote the industry beyond their own border. They can’t do a thing with it,” Poole said.

In Canada, he said legalizing cannabis across the country will remove the marketing ability.

“Once all the rules are in place, you will see the entrepreneurs figure it out and develop new business off-shoot ideas,” Poole said.

Related: Kelowna woman cooks up winning recipe

David Purcell, emerging business director for Kwantlen Polytechnic University, said legalizing marijuana is expected to create an industry employing from 50,000 to 150,000 across Canada.

Purcell said that creates challenges in providing an adequate certified labour force to meet that job demand on both the production and retail side, as well as educating people about the fact-based realities of cannabis use.

He said Kwantlen is at the forefront of developing courses related to the industry and is looking to continue expanding on that curriculum, at one point seeing creation of a diploma or degree program on cannabis.

“We are looking to create evidence-based education initiatives that can help correct the false perceptions and inaccurate stereotypes so the public can feel more comfortable in the legalized cannabis world,” he said.

To report a typo, email: edit@kelownacapnews.com.


@BarryGerding
barry.gerding@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Resolution found in Vernon car surfing death case: defence

Byron James Walterhouse will appear to fix a date for disposition Oct. 18

Vernon pair arrested in connection with 2017 homicide

Incident happened July 19 at Vernon apartment; man, woman arrested without incident

‘Police are ready’ for legal pot, say Canadian chiefs

But Canadians won’t see major policing changes as pot becomes legal

Vernon serial arsonist to face sentencing in new year

William Munton, who pleaded guilty to seven counts of arson, will appear for sentencing in January

Vernon Red Lion cadet moves on after seven years in program

Officer Cadet Riley McLaughlin is now with the BC Dragoons

Sunny skies for the week ahead

Environment Canada is forecasting clear skies for the Okanagan and Shuswap

Trump: Saudi king ‘firmly denies’ any role in Khashoggi mystery

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is travelling to the Middle East to learn more about the fate of the Saudi national

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen dies at 65

Allen died in Seattle from complications of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

Arnstrong girl guides join with Dancers

Vernon Star Country Squares instructor to teach girl guides square dancing

South Okanagan man alleged to have exposed genitals to children

Penticton RCMP said incident occurred at the Kiwanis Park

Vernon Pee Wee Vipers post sweep

Rep hockey weekend roundup

Vernon Vixens go 1-3 in Diva Cup

Revelstoke women’s hockey tournament

Transport Canada to take new look at rules, research on school bus seatbelts

Canada doesn’t currently require seatbelts on school buses

Sockeye run in Shuswap expected to be close to 2014 numbers

Salute to the Sockeye on Adams River continues until Sunday, Oct. 21 at 4 p.m.

Most Read