Cities debate marijuana dispensary authority

Not all are ready to follow Vancouver, Victoria in defying federal law to manage purportedly medical pot stores

'Bongy' promotes a head shop in Esquimalt

With medical marijuana dispensaries continuing to open in defiance of federal law, more B.C. communities have joined the call for local authority to regulate what are often little more than retail pot stores.

Lower Mainland communities found majority support at last week’s Union of B.C. Municipalities convention to bypass legal wrangling over medical marijuana access, as a court challenge continues against the Conservative government’s strict controls on growing and selling it legally.

Maple Ridge Coun. Corisa Bell said other cities are facing the same issues as Vancouver, where about 100 dispensaries have opened in a free-for all with street-level marketing to young people. Vancouver ignored instructions from federal Health Minister Rona Ambrose to use authorized sources of medical marijuana, and adopted a licensing system last spring to keep pot shops away from schools, community centres and each other.

Vancouver set a licence fee of $30,000 for dispensaries and $1,000 for non-profit “compassion clubs,” with Victoria preparing to follow suit. But other communities don’t have the same revolutionary zeal.

Esquimalt Coun. Susan Low, whose community banned the pipe-headed mascot “Bongy” from hawking wares of a marijuana paraphernalia store in 2013, said she isn’t qualified to regulate medical pot. The Lower Mainland proposal also doesn’t prevent a patchwork of different rules in adjoining communities, Low said.

Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart said the latest resolution seems intended to stick to municipal authority over location and zoning, but it doesn’t say so explicitly, and the UBCM loses credibility when it wanders outside its mandate.

Port Alberni Coun. Jack McLeman said he supports the two-year-old UBCM endorsement of legalizing pot, although his drug of choice for pain is Scotch whisky. He said his council has been approached about medical dispensaries, and invited applications, but no one followed through.

“Just legalize the junk,” McLeman said. “Don’t tell me it’s your aspirin.”

Maple Ridge Coun. Craig Speirs drew laughter from delegates when he said there was “some consternation” when his city’s first dispensary opened, “but it’s proved to have a calming effect on the neighbourhood.”

The motion to support municipal control over pot stores passed in a show of hands, with about one third of those attending opposed.

Just Posted

Smithers man receives two-year sentence for fatal car crash

Over a year after a fatal crash, a Smithers man has been sentenced to two years plus a day in jail.

First Nations push for massive conservation area in northern B.C.

Includes ancestral areas of three Kaska Dena First Nations, just shy of the B.C.-Yukon border

Tahltan reach benefits agreement over Seabridge’s massive KSM gold mine project

$308M agreement provides additional billions for Tahltan jobs, contracts

B.C. court to mull continuing order against Coastal Gaslink pipeline opponents

Coastal GasLink was granted an interim injunction in December following arrests and protests

10 facts about Father’s Day

Did you know that the special day for dads was first celebrated in 1910?

B.C. VIEWS: When farmland protection doesn’t protect farmers

Secondary residences aren’t mansions, families tell Lana Popham

Bombers down B.C. Lions 33-23 in season opener

Former Lion Andrew Harris leads Winnipeg with 148 rushing yards

Northern B.C. family remembers murdered Indigenous woman with memorial walk

Still no closure for Ramona Wilson’s family 25 years later

B.C. university to offer mentorship program for former youth in care

Students using the provincial tuition waiver program will soon be able to form a community at KPU

Cyclists competing in one of the toughest bike races on the planet pass through Fernie

Divide riders looking strong as they finish first leg of 4160 km race

You might not know these B.C. records are public

Hired a lawyer to file a civil claim? Those are published online

B.C. bus driver loses case to get job back after texting while driving full bus

An arbitator ruled that Tim Wesman’s phone usage was a “a reckless disregard for public safety”

B.C. Interior First Nation family ‘heartbroken’ over loss of young mom

RCMP have released no new information since the June 8, 2019 homicide

Most Read