A Township of Langley councillor wants to crack down on recreational cannabis advertising before the product becomes legal in 2018.
On Sept. 11, in an 8-1 vote, council passed a motion from Coun. Bob Long to have the Township call upon higher levels of government to make cannabis advertising subject to the same laws as tobacco advertising.
He is requesting that both the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) and the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) ask for the government of Canada to co-ordinate these regulations with provincial and territorial governments.
“I spent a bit of time on the West Coast in Washington and Oregon, and I was absolutely blown away with the amount of billboards, road signs, and even folks dressed as monkeys with signs saying, ‘Come on in, it’s five joints for $20,’” Long said.
“So, I mean, we can’t debate what the federal government’s going to do, I suppose, at this stage in legalizing recreational marijuana, but we certainly can appeal to them and to the Union of British Columbia Municipalities and the provincial government to stop the proliferation of advertising in our communities. We don’t want to be enticing our folks to buy pot. If it’s available, it’s available, much like cigarettes.”
Coun. Kim Richter said she would like to take things one step further and have B.C. follow the Ontario model, introduced earlier in September, for sale and use of pot.
Ontario is planning to closely mimic their liquor regulations by allowing marijuana to be sold in 150 dedicated stores run by the Liquor Control Board. Those who purchase must be 19 years of age or older, and the product must be used in private residences.
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“I think FCM and UBCM should be encouraging our province to follow the Ontario model in how this is going to be handled overall,” Richter said. “How’s it’s going to be marketed, distributed, sold, located — I think Ontario’s got the winning formula on this one.”
Coun. Petrina Arnason cast the lone vote against the motion, questioning whether marijuana should be compared to tobacco on this scale.
“It did occur to me, just as a point of clarification, that those standards (for tobacco) were developed over time for a very specific product that’s quite different than marijuana,” she said.
“And I’m not taking position one way or the other, but I do wonder whether or not that might infringe on freedom of speech or expression if one was to not allow certain types of advertising.”
“I would leave that up to the federal government and the provincial government, they regulate advertising of tobacco and alcohol products,” Mayor Jack Froese replied. “Liquor also has very restricted regulations.”