Huge opportunities for B.C. with legalization, marijuana producer says

The time has come for British Columbia to take the lead on the marijuana legalization process — according to one medical marijuana producer.

The long-awaited federal marijuana legalization bill is being unveiled today.

The legalization bill will consider how marijuana will be taxed, regulated and sold safely, but many critics say it will still leave a lot of details to the provinces — especially on how these policies will be enacted.

For some, the bill is a huge entrepreneurial opportunity.

"There's huge opportunity here and B.C. needs to act, otherwise other provinces are going to eat our lunch," said Dan Sutton, the founder and managing director of Tantalus Labs — a medical marijuana producer.

Sutton said B.C. is perfectly positioned to lend its expertise to the legalization process.

"I think demand will substantially increase as a result. Production will necessitate massive expansion as well. We need a new generation of entrepreneurship to step in and fill that void.

"British Columbia should begin its own task force — its own collection of industry insiders, academics and politicians, the greatest minds in this industry — to lay the foundation for what could be massively economically impactful for this province creating  thousands of jobs and millions of dollars — if not billions — in economic spillover."

For example, Sutton says, B.C. could use its industry expertise as a greenhouse grower of vegetables and bedding plants to contribute to best practices on how to grow marijuana safely and effectively.

Sutton said he is eager to see marijuana become a political issue in during the May 9 provincial election.

"We need strong leadership from our provincial government who have yet been silent on this issue," he said. "It's important to British Columbians."

The federal government's goal is to make legalization a reality across the country before July 1, 2018.