Sara Mohsin, Client Relations Officer with Rising Tide Consultants

With cannabis legalization just weeks away, it was of course a topic of interest to the hundreds of politicians in Whistler this week for the annual Union of B.C. Municipalities convention.

It was interesting to discover that much of those conversations centered around regulation of retail stores and other cannabis licensing “issues.”

The number of times I heard government officials use the word “issue” in describing the legalization of recreational cannabis caught my attention.

They must stop calling cannabis an “issue,” as this reinforces a negative rhetoric and frames conversations in a way that will do nothing to destroy the stigmas and taboos that must be corrected.

Aren’t there bigger concerns that should be top of mind right now?

There are fire-related issues that have been voiced by the Fire Chiefs’ Association of B.C., which have gone as far as to call for an outright ban on growing cannabis in homes.

Why?

B.C.’s firefighters are worried that home-growing will lead to dangerous, or even deadly, accidents.

They’re not unfounded concerns. Earlier this year, two people died in a Surrey home where medical marijuana was being grown.

How will cities know who is growing, and thus, educate the public on the safety protocol in order to prevent such avoidable tragedies?

Then, there are the obvious criminal code and criminal justice concerns, not to mention environmental issues.

I sat in on a “Cabinet Town Hall: Safe Communities” session focused on cannabis at the UBCM conference this week.

It featured three people. Two of them – Attorney General David Eby and Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth – are responsible for B.C.’s cannabis roll out, yet that room was not even half full.

To say I was surprised in an understatement.

These issues should be just as much of a concern as the regulatory policies that must be worked out, to ensure a successful – and safe – legalization process.

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