Pubdate: Fri, 21 Jul 2017
Source: Victoria News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 Black Press
Author: Don Descoteau


Victoria councillor hopes province, feds take on enforcement role in

Enforcement of existing city bylaws is no walk in the park when it
comes to marijuana dispensaries, especially given the lack of federal
legislation or even guidance on the matter.

Victoria councillors will hear more this Thursday from city staff
working in the field, when committee of the whole discusses an
enforcement progress report relating to cannabis-related businesses.
In total, $24,000 in fines have so far been handed out to dispensaries
for non-compliance, $15,000 of which - 15 fines of $1,000 - has been
levied under the city's cannabis bylaw for operating without a valid
business licence.

"I don't think anybody thought it would take as long as it has to get
these [federal] policies in place," said Coun. Margaret Lucas, whose
co-sponsored motion to extend the minimum distance between
dispensaries to 400 metres, from the previous 200 was passed by
council July 6.

"I think a lot of businesses tried to jump the gun to get in first.
They just popped up everywhere, in anticipation of the federal
government coming down with their policies."

By way of comparison, Lucas reiterated her experience with changes to
the rules and location criteria for liquor retail stores. Municipal
input and knowledge of day-to-day operations helped shape the eventual
provincial regulations.

The second-most frequent cannabis bylaw infraction listed in the
report, with eight $500 tickets issued, was for allowing consumption
of product on the premises, while four operators were ticketed $250
under the city's sign bylaw for not obtaining a permit for their sign.

The report also states that since the city adopted its cannabis bylaw,
the time taken by staff to enforce it has exceeded the allotted 35
hours a week. Once all cannabis retailers have gone through the
rezoning process, which is expected to cut in half the number that are
operating, staff predict the enforcement hours will also fall to
within the 35 hours.

Currently only four retailers have received rezoning approval,
although only one has yet to receive a business licence. Six
applications are ready to go to public hearing and another 23 are
working their way through the process.

"I think the biggest thing, is that compliance [enforcement] has to be
given to another level," Lucas said of the long-term picture. "That is
not under the purview of the municipality. We don't have the financial
capacity, when this eventually comes down, to be hiring bylaw officers
to be overseeing it. It needs to be administered and overseen by
inspectors at the provincial or federal level."
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MAP posted-by: Matt