Pubdate: Wed, 13 Nov 2013
Source: Oliver Chronicle (CN BC)
Copyright: 2013 Oliver Chronicle
Author: Lyonel Doherty


Having BC's marijuana industry regulated in a similar manner to beer
and wine is an intriguing idea to some members of Oliver town council.

A couple of councillors expressed interest in signing the "Sensible
BC" petition after listening to a recent presentation by Heather Pinske.

She said the ultimate goal is to regulate the cannabis industry by
proposing legislation called the Sensible Policing Act.

The first aspect is to redirect police resources away from being
"wasted on simple possession of cannabis," said Pinske, who lives in

Last year, BC police made more than 16,500 arrests for possession,
draining $10.5 million in police resources and court time away from
more serious criminal offences, Pinske noted.

The second aspect of the legislation treats a minor in possession of
marijuana the same as if it were alcohol.

"This allows police to deal with a teenager smoking pot, but without
the lifetime criminal record that can restrict travel and employment,"
Pinske said.

The third aspect calls upon the federal government to repeal cannabis
prohibition so that BC can regulate and tax it like beer and wine.

Pinske told council that their final goal is the legalization of

She stated that passing the legislation hinges on canvassers being
able to collect the signatures required on a petition.

Pinske admitted the biggest problem is getting people to support the
cause and not be viewed as a drug supporter. She stressed that
cannabis users are not criminals.

"People need to realize that there is no difference between enjoying a
glass of wine and enjoying cannabis."

Pinske said more people could benefit from cannabis medicinally with
legislation. Different studies show an ever increasing number of
afflictions that can be treated with cannabis, she pointed out.

Yes, many fear that legalizing marijuana will mean droves of people
too "stoned" to do anything. But countries (Australia and Switzerland)
where cannabis has been decriminalized are doing just fine, Pinske

"They have recognized the futility of continuing the prohibition and
have instead decided to profit from the cannabis trade."

Pinske told council that legalization will create jobs and billions of
dollars in taxes and licensing fees.

Councillor Dave Mattes said he, personally, was more than willing to
sign the petition in the name of harm reduction.

Councillor Jack Bennest said he favoured a referendum to allow people
to have their say.

Mayor Ron Hovanes gave Pinske kudos for tackling the issue, but said
he couldn't sign the petition on behalf of the Town.

Councillor Maureen Doerr offered Pinske to bring the petition to her
store so people could sign it.

Water councillor Rick Machial said it's time the country had a
discussion about this because a lot of "crooks" are getting rich off

Last week the regional district discussed changes to the regulations
governing the operation of medical marijuana facilities. They also
talked about the implications of siting these facilities in the

The Town of Oliver previously had an enquiry from a group that wanted
to know if municipal bylaws would allow a marijuana production
facility here.

Municipal Manager Tom Szalay said there is no municipal bylaw that
would prohibit such facilities outright. However, they would have to
be located where permitted in the zoning bylaw.

The new Marijuana Medical Access Regulation (MMAR) is slated to take
effect in Canada on March 31, 2014.

Health Canada is not required under the MMAR to notify local
governments of issued licences within the municipality's

But Szalay said these facilities would be expected to fit best into an
industrial area because of the nature of the operation.

Currently, Oliver's industrial zones do not permit indoor horticulture
as an outright use. Therefore, a proponent would have to apply for a
zoning amendment on the property, Szalay said.

"This approach, as opposed to pre-zoning the entire industrial zone
for such use, has the benefit of making the public aware of any such
proposals and allows input."

Regional district planner Christopher Garrish said the majority of
queries about marijuana facilities within the district have involved
lands in the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR).

It is understood that only enclosed and indoor grow oprerations will
be licensed, Garrish said.

The planner stated there are a number of facilities in the ALR that
could be suitably re-used for this purpose, such as the former Beaver
Lodge residential training centre in Area C (rural Oliver).

Last week RDOS directors expressed their desire to have a say on where
these facilities are located, rather than having the Agricultural Land
Commission decide.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt