BC Conservatives fire salvo

The BC Conservative party is pushing the current provincial regime to allow craft cannabis growers to compete with government sources once pot sales become legal later this year.

Scott Anderson is a Vernon City councillor and current interim leader of the BC Conservative party. In a press release, he demanded the government allow "free market cannabis sourcing."

"It's not surprising that a party which believes in huge government solutions and stifling regulation wants to control a major sector of the province's economy," stated Anderson. "It's bad enough that the 'GreeNDP' has started a trade war with Alberta that threatens our wine industry, but now it wants to double down and kill the province's cannabis industry as well. The economic mismanagement of the 'GreeNDP' has entered the realm of parody."

The salvo from the B.C. Conservative Party comes only a few days after the province released its proposed regulations around marijuana

"The 'BC GreeNDP' has announced that all cannabis stores will have to buy product directly from government sources instead of sourcing product from private growers," the release states.

The release goes on to list ways the BC Conservative party would regulate marijuana if given the mandate. Currently,  the BC Conservatives hold no seats in the legislature. 

In both roles, as the BC Conservative interim leader and a city councillor in Vernon, Anderson has been outspoken about what role the private sector should play once marijuana is legalized.

Ahead of a January public hearing on a marijuana bylaw in Vernon, Anderson told Castanet News: "If we are going to legalize marijuana for recreational use, the private sector should be the primary driver of it in terms of distribution and sourcing." 

Anderson went on to say, "that's a large complexity to the issue, but I don't think that we are best served by the government being the sole distributor grower."

While speaking with Castanet News in Lake Country last week, BC Premiere John Horgan briefly touched on cannabis, calling it the "great, huge elephant in the room" when it comes to his party's legislative agenda, which will be discussed later this month when the Legislative Assembly gathers for the first time in 2018.

"We are going to be putting in place legislation to meet the objectives the federal government put in place in decriminalizing cannabis," said Horgan. "I thought this would be a relatively simple undertaking but it is extremely complicated and so it is going to take up a big chunk of our legislative time."  

While the BC Conservatives do not hold a seat in legislature, it does have a horse in a race. In late January, the party announced Mark Thompson would be running in the Kelowna West byelection on Feb. 14. 

Also running: Shelley Cook (NDP), Robert Stupka (Green), Kyle Geronazzo (Libertarian), Ben Stewart (Liberals) and Mark Thompson (BC Conservatives).

The riding has been vacant since August after former premier Cristy Clark stepped down. 

Advanced polls have opened. 

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