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Six months of legal pot in BC: higher prices, few changes to impaired driving enforcement

Last Updated Apr 17, 2019 at 6:58 am PDT

(Source: UBC handout)

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – It’s now been half a year since recreational pot became legal in Canada, and despite early fears of what such a change would bring, it seems the sky has not yet fallen.

Kyla Lee, who specializes in driving legislation at Acuman Law in Vancouver, says while other jurisdictions have seen a noticeable spike in cannabis impaired driving arrests, police in BC appear to be taking a “wait and see” approach.

“I think a lot of that has to do with the culture that we had in BC towards recreational cannabis prior to legalization. It was something that was understood that everybody was doing anyway,” she says.

“In some provinces, people who are violating the new cannabis laws are getting much stiffer sentences than in British Columbia… where we don’t even have our cannabis task force in the Community Safety Unit up and running to enforce what laws exist.”

Lee adds lingering questions about the legality of roadside breath tests, and the relatively incomplete science regarding the impacts of cannabis impairment may add to officers’ reluctance to enforce the new laws.

One thing that has changed in the past six months is marijuana prices.

According to Statistics Canada — which has long been crowd sourcing pricing data through their StatsCannabis app — Canadians on average are paying 17.3 per cent more for pot than they were prior to legalization.

The price jump was least pronounced in BC, but in New Brunswick, which had some of the lowest pot prices in Canada before legalization, prices rose 30.5 per cent.

It also seems that British Columbians have been slow to embrace the BC Cannabis Stores website, which has had roughly 12 thousand fewer sales since Oct. 17th than the province’s brick-and-mortor retail retail store in Kamloops.

-With files from Amanda Wawryk