THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ron Ward

Kelowna chamber: Business concerned about pot legalization

Kelowna Chamber jumps into the debate over the future of marijuana

Losing workers to the marijuana industry, proper training for workers and limiting access by youth were some of the findings of a Kelowna Chamber of Commerce business survey on the cannabis legalization.

An equal share of any tax revenue for all three levels of government and a strong role for the private sector were also among the findings of the survey.

Asked how any tax revenues from the sale of cannabis should be divided, nearly 80 per cent of respondents agreed that it should be split equally among all three levels of government, federal, provincial and municipal.

One of the significant business issues identified through this survey and through other feedback is the pending impact on the labour market. There is concern that the cannabis industry—which is expected to pay above average in wages—could draw thousands of workers away from current employment. This would create a challenge for lower paid service sectors and that is something government officials should be aware of.

“We wanted to engage our members on the business aspects of legalization of cannabis,” said Tom Dyas, president of the Kelowna Chamber. “It is clear by the strong response we received at 13 per cent of our 1,250 members that the business community is interested as this sector emerges, and has a number of concerns.”

Other survey findings suggest that the business community believes both distribution and sales should be handled with a combined private and public sector model. The majority of respondents were opposed to simply putting retail cannabis into government liquor stores.

On the issue of retail sales, respondents ranked limiting access by youth as their top priority, followed by robust training requirements for staff in retail operations. Finally, members surveyed responded that extensive consideration must be given to locating retail stores to avoid potential negative impact on individuals or the community.

The results have been forwarded to the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General who conducted a province-wide consultation on the topic.

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