Pubdate: Thu, 30 Mar 2017
Source: Nanaimo News Bulletin (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017, BC Newspaper Group
Author: Tamara Cunningham


Nanaimo marijuana dispensaries want a good neighbour agreement with
the City of Nanaimo that would cap their numbers and distance
dispensaries from schools and daycares.

The Nanaimo Cannabis Coalition, representing local marijuana
dispensaries, called on council during Monday's committee of the whole
meeting to hold town hall meetings around legalization and regulation,
as well as to support recommendations to lay out guidelines, help it
self-regulate better and prevent dispensaries from opening next to

Matthew O'Donnell, coalition spokesman, said Nanaimo is looked upon in
the industry as a "wild west environment." It's unregulated and
experiencing an influx of dispensaries from outside Vancouver Island.
A month ago a dispensary opened next door to a daycare centre, which
made them decide action needs to happen, he said.

Nanaimo has not made an attempt to regulate dispensaries like Victoria
or Vancouver.

According to O'Donnell, the coalition isn't looking for a bylaw, but
wants its proposal looked at as a good neighbour agreement between
dispensaries. It asked for a council motion requesting dispensaries
adhere to guidelines which include a ban on operating within 150
metres or directly adjacent to schools and daycares; installing
charcoal air filtration systems to eliminate odours; and capping
dispensaries until the city begins a business licence process.

Recommendations for signage and a ban of on-site consumption of
cannabis, except for two lounges that already operate in Nanaimo, were
also suggested.

"We have near unanimous support from all the dispensaries who are
willing to get on with these points immediately," he said, adding many
dispensaries have already complied.

"This is not a legally binding document or anything like that and
that's not what we're asking for. We just basically want some
guidelines so there's clear communication to the dispensaries and they
know exactly where they stand just to prevent problems."

Coun. Bill Yoachim liked the recommendations from the coalition,
believing it's time for action and said he hopes the city takes a
proactive measure to direct staff to look into some of the points raised.

Coun. Diane Brennan said she agrees neighbourhood agreements are
stronger if the weight of the city is behind them.

"I think we're putting our head in the sand if we thought this isn't
going to happen and I think it's actually quite wise to pull together
some sort of … regulation," said Brennan, who asked for the
recommendations to be included in a staff report, expected in May with
options on dispensaries.

Rather than wait until May, Coun. Bill Bestwick said he thinks the
points raised are a good start and through public consultation and
open houses there might be more things to add to it as they go along.

"I don't see a downside to supporting an organization that wants us to
control or help them control their business and keep the riff-raff
out," he said.
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MAP posted-by: Matt