Pubdate: Wed, 27 Sep 2017
Source: North Shore News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 North Shore News
Author: Jane Seyd


Pot shops that have opened in North Vancouver are hoping to stay when
the province creates regulations about how marijuana should be sold
when it's legalized next year.

"Obviously we're hoping we'll still play a part in the whole thing. It
sounds like there's room," said Michael Wuest, owner of the Weeds
store at 991 Marine Dr. Wuest's was the first storefront to open up on
the North Shore, in April 2015.

Six storefront "dispensaries" currently operate in North Vancouver,
five of those within city boundaries.

Selling marijuana from any retail storefront is still illegal, but
with legalization on the horizon, both RCMP and some municipal
authorities have taken a "wait and see" approach to

On Monday, solicitor general Mike Farnworth announced the province is
starting a one-month consultation process to tap both the public and
local politicians about what they'd like to see in provincial laws.

Farnworth said while some rules - such as those governing the supply
of marijuana - will be set by Ottawa, others will be up to the province.

Farnworth hinted many of those decisions may get passed down to
municipalities to regulate.

Neil Boyd, a Simon Fraser professor of criminology, said it's unlikely
the province will force all existing dispensaries to close. More
likely is a model where some private retail stores exist alongside
government outlets. "There's been a tolerance for these shops so it's
possible they will continue," he said.

But Boyd said he also expects to see a lot more regulation around
where the pot shops get their supply and standardization for potency.
"That doesn't happen very much right now," he said.

District of North Vancouver Mayor Richard Walton said municipalities
would welcome clarity from senior governments about what will be
allowed when marijuana is legalized. Then local governments can craft
bylaws about where pot shops can operate. "It needs to be in areas
that are appropriate," he said - away from schools and areas where
neighbours would be bothered, for instance.

Walton said he'd also like to see regulations be similar - or at least
complementary - in both the city and district of North Vancouver, to
avoid confusion. Currently the two neighbouring municipalities have
taken different approaches to pot shops.

In the city, bylaw officers have handed out repeated tickets to
storefronts for operating without a business licence, which the
municipal council refused to issue. But the city has stopped short of
pursuing the shops in court. But when one shop that opened in the
district prompted complaints from neighbouring commercial tenants, the
district went to court and got an injunction ordering the business

Dr. Mark Lysyhshn, medical health officer for the North Shore, said
health authorities support legalization of marijuana and other
psychoactive substances. "A lot of the harms come from the fact that
they are unregulated," he said.

Health authorities favour a government-run retail system as "the least
risky way" to sell marijuana, he said, but don't want alcohol and pot
sold in the same place. Lysyshyn said health officials also want the
supply of pot to come from licensed producers.

Health concerns around marijuana use have centred on regular heavy use
among young adults because "it can affect their lifelong brain
development and even their IQ," said Lysyshyn. Doctors are also
cautious about edible products, he said, because it's easier for
people to consume a higher-than-anticipated dose of TCH in those and
for people who shouldn't consume marijuana - like children - getting
poisoned after accidentally eating edible products.

Anyone from the public can weigh in on the province's approach to
marijuana legalization until Nov. 1
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