Randy Caine. File photo

Treat marijuana like wine, Langley activist says

Randy Caine endorses the provincial approach to recreational marijuana — with one exception

Langley marijuana activist Randy Caine gave a mostly positive review to the provincial government’s proposed plans for the legalization of recreational cannabis.

“I really like what I’m seeing in British Columbia,” Caine told The Times.

On Tuesday, provincial Minister of Public Safety Mike Farnworth said the legal minimum age for marijuana consumption will be set at 19, in line with alcohol and tobacco, when the federal government makes recreational use legal next July.

The BC Liquor Distribution Branch will handle wholesale distribution to both public and private retailers.

Caine said it makes sense to make the minimum age 19 so it is “completely consistent.”

He approves the move to a “blended system” where marijuana will be sold by both public and private retailers, but he doesn’t think it would be a good idea to sell marijuana in government liquor stores with wine, beer and hard liquor.

“They’re (alcohol and marijuana) very unique and different types of products,” Caine said.

“When you use them together, they don’t blend very well.”

Caine thinks marijuana should be treated like wine, not hard liquor, and he would like to see the province allow small, marijuana grow operations with sales outlets.

“Why not model ourselves a bit after vineyards?” Caine said.

“That would be a clever way to handle it.”

Caine said he is interested in becoming a retailer of non-medicinal marijuana, but not a grower.

“I would really like to do this.”

He said he’s been “having small discussions with the City and the Township” about it, but they are waiting for more details from the province.

Caine said it was personally satisfying to witness a historic shift from marijuana being criminalized to a discussion over how to regulate and sell it legally.

“It’s a very exciting moment,” Caine said.

“I’m old enough to remember when we were hunted like dogs.”

Caine operates stores selling legal hemp products in both Langleys and White Rock and has often campaigned for reducing restrictions on marijuana use.

When he opened his Hempyz novelty store in downtown Langley, the City first refused him a business licence, but later backed down and changed the law to allow it.

Caine also clashed with the city of Surrey when he owned and operated The Joint coffee house in Surrey.

Surrey council denied Caine a business licence for the entire 18 months his shop operated from 1995 to 1997.

Caine waged a lengthy court battle to repeal Canada’s Criminal Code ban on marijuana, arguing that it violated the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Caine launched the constitutional challenge — which made it all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada — after being arrested in White Rock with a joint that weighed 0.5 grams.

Ultimately the court ruled against him.

Caine was charged, but not convicted, of drug trafficking in July of 2011 when his legal medical marijuana dispensary in Langley City was raided by the RCMP.

READ MORE: Police raid Langley marijuana dispensary

The charge was dropped in June 2013 when Caine pleaded guilty to less serious violations of exceeding the amount of marijuana he was allowed under his Health Canada licence and of storing it improperly.

He was then granted an absolute discharge on both counts. Under Canadian law, an absolute discharge is not considered a conviction.

Despite that, Caine later discovered he has been been flagged as a “security threat” for being a drug trafficker when he and his wife were denied entry to Mexico.

Caine has filed a request with the RCMP under the federal Access to Information Act to find out exactly who was responsible for making what Caine described as “false and baseless” allegations, but two years on, has yet to received an answer.

READ MORE: Who flagged Randy Caine?

The province kicked off several weeks of public consultation in late September and released Tuesday’s recommendations following input from nearly 50,000 British Columbians, and submissions from 141 local and Indigenous governments.

Farnworth assured reporters at the start of consultation that the government was doing everything it could to finish its work by the July deadline.

Marijuana dispensary owners in Vancouver weren’t all pleased with the government’s decision.

Troy, the manager of Vancouver’s Lime Life Society,

“The proposals all suck,” Troy, who declined to provide his last name, said.

“The plan to sell it in liquor stores is completely unfeasible and unreasonable.”

Despite the public input campaign, Troy feels that the proposed provincial regulations are overbearing for an industry that he says has done fine on its own.

“Unfortunately, it’s people making decisions about products and services they don’t know much about, or aren’t educated on,” he said.

The federal bill to legalize and regulate marijuana, introduced in early 2017, received final approval in the House of Commons last week.

It now moves to the Senate, where it is likely to face heavy opposition from Conservatives who argue legalization should be delayed because the process is being rushed.

Further details on the rules for recreational pot in B.C. won’t be released until early 2018.

READ MORE: A taste of his own medicine for Langley marijuana advocate

– with files from Katya Slepian, Black Press


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