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B.C. liquor branch to deal pot next July, age set at 19

Starting in July, when Ottawa's announced it will legalize marijuana, B.C. will allow a mix of private and public vendors — under the eye of the booze regulator.

Marijuana plants hang on a drying rack in a curing shed at the Euflora Recreational marijuana facility on Wednesday, April 26, 2017 in Denver.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Joe Mahoney

Marijuana plants hang on a drying rack in a curing shed at the Euflora Recreational marijuana facility on Wednesday, April 26, 2017 in Denver.

Next July, British Columbians over 19 will be allowed to buy weed that's controlled by the province's liquor distribution branch, the government revealed Tuesday.

The province's Solicitor General unveiled the B.C. rules as the federal government's planned legalization of marijuana comes into force in mid-2018, setting the minimum age the same as for alcohol — and claiming the B.C. rules focus on keeping "the criminal element out of cannabis" and roads safe.

"The B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB) will be the wholesale distributor of non-medical cannabis in B.C.," Mike Farnworth said in a statement. "The Province anticipates establishing a retail model that includes both public and private retail opportunities and will share details regarding the model in early 2018."

Nearly 50,000 British Columbians offered their input during provincial consultations this fall, plus more than 140 municipalities and First Nations, Farnworth's ministry stated in the release.

Despite concerns expressed by some municipalities and critics of drug-related crime, Farnworth said that public safety remains top of mind as his government moves forward to meet Ottawa's reforms, a key plank in the federal Liberals' election platform.

"It’s clear that British Columbians support the priorities of protecting young people, health and safety, keeping the criminal element out of cannabis and keeping roads safe," Farnworth stated, "which will guide the Province in developing B.C.’s regulatory framework for non-medical cannabis."

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