Pubdate: Thu, 25 Aug 2016
Source: Nanaimo News Bulletin (CN BC)
Copyright: 2016, BC Newspaper Group
Author: Tamara Cunningham


Nanaimo city councillors want to know how the City of Victoria plans 
to regulate marijuana dispensaries, but there was agreement, 
something needs to be done about the pot shops here.

Nanaimo continues to see dispensaries open and sell bud to brownies 
and T-shirts despite still being illegal. After an RCMP crackdown on 
dispensaries in December, council agreed to look at licensing 
regulation options, but the issue hasn't landed on the table for 
discussion yet with a staff report still in the works.

At a city council meeting Monday, city politicians called for a 
review of Victoria's draft bylaws, tied to controls of medical 
marijuana dispensaries, with at least an interim report by Sept. 19 
in advance of the Union of B.C. Municipalities conference.

This city isn't the first to consider the question of what to do with 
dispensaries. Port Alberni council has agreed to regulate the medical 
marijuana storefronts, and has begun to license them, while Victoria 
is in the process of drafting rules. The issue of medical marijuana 
is also on the UBCM agenda, including to call the provincial and 
federal governments to share tax revenue with municipalities when the 
Justin Trudeau Liberal government puts forward its plan to legalize 
recreational marijuana sales next year.

Council supported a review of what Victoria is doing, a motion 
proposed by Coun. Diane Brennan, but also talked about the need to be 
proactive and address the dispensaries in Nanaimo.

Coun. Bill Bestwick said clearly council has to do something more 
than it's done, but he doesn't know what that is and called the 
report a step in the right direction. He wanted to "add money to it," 
to meet the September target date, although no formal motion was proposed.

Coun. Ian Thorpe considers the review of Victoria's bylaws as a first 
step, agreeing something has to be started, but he's also interested 
in knowing what's happening in other communities.

"I've heard a lot of talk tonight about generating revenue, and 
business licenses and income and none of that to me, in this issue, 
is of primary importance. To me this issue is about public safety and 
regulating the quality of product and regulating who are the real 
deserving users who require medical marijuana for a legitimate 
medical concern...," he said.

The decision for a review of Victoria's work, made Monday, is 
considered a move in the right direction by Matthew O'Donnell, 
community liaison for Mid-Island Health and Wellness dispensary, and 
he said he hopes this time, there's more of a sense of urgency in 
handling the matter.

- - with files from Tom Fletcher
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom