Pubdate: Wed, 25 Oct 2017
Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)
Copyright: 2017 The Globe and Mail Company
Authors: Mike Hager and Xiao Xu
Page: S1


Mayor asserts city has numerous supporters as it looks to ban the sale
of cannabis once provincial legislation is set next spring

At least one Vancouver suburb wants to explore outlawing retail sales
of cannabis within its city limits, even after the drug is legalized
next year.

Richmond city council's opposition to recreational cannabis
underscores the balance British Columbia is trying to achieve with its
coming rules as it assures communities there will not be a
provincewide, one-size-fits-all approach to legal sales of the
substance. The NDP government has established a 19-member committee of
municipal politicians and bureaucrats to discuss a host of
controversial issues surrounding legalization with the province, but
Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie said on Tuesday his community is opposed
to the sale and use of recreational cannabis. Richmond will await the
new provincial rules - expected next spring - before exploring its
options, he said.

"We believe, reflecting on community values here in the city of
Richmond, there's a considerable number of people who would support an
outright ban," said Mr. Brodie, whose council voted unanimously on
Monday to send letters to British Columbia and the federal government
signalling its opposition to legalization.

So far, British Columbia is the lone province to state that it would
embrace a cannabis retail system involving a mix of different models
once the drug is legalized next summer. The provincial government has
said Vancouver's system of independent cannabis shops - implemented
under a bylaw passed two years ago - will not work for every
community. But it is unclear whether cities such as Richmond would be
allowed to go "dry" and outlaw the sale of cannabis within their boundaries.

Mike Farnworth, B.C.'s Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor
General, said it is too early in the consultation process to determine
whether individual communities will be allowed to ban retail sales of
the drug.

"I could quite easily see a [provincial] model where some communities
may well have dispensaries and other communities don't or you could
well have government liquor stores, private liquor stores or other
variations of retail operations could exist," he told The Globe and
Mail on Oct. 20. "What we want is to put in place a regime that makes
people go, 'Okay, this makes sense, it works.' "

Mr. Farnworth, whose Metro Vancouver riding of Port Coquitlam shut
down its cannabis shops soon after opening, said that an online public
survey, which closes Nov. 1, had drawn 40,000 submissions by Oct. 20.
He said the province is working to pass legislation in the spring
session of the legislature in order to meet Ottawa's deadline of next

The federal government has stated that in areas without storefront
sales, people will be able to buy cannabis online from licensed
producers and have the products shipped to their homes. A spokesperson
for Health Canada said the province and municipalities have the right
to make their own decisions, as long as they follow the federal rules.

"They can literally do whatever they want. We install the rules and
regulations for federal and then they get to make their own
jurisdiction based on our federal rules for their province, for their
municipality," Sindy Souffront said in an interview. "Only they will
know what fits for their city, for the province of B.C."

Ontario became the first province to issue its plan, last month
announcing the province would launch a monopoly of cannabis stores as
a subsidiary of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario - 40 next year and
150 by 2020 - in a move that would effectively end private
dispensaries. Alberta has said cannabis there will be sold in
standalone stores, but has not yet decided whether these retailers
will be public or private.

Although British Columbia has long been the centre of Canada's illegal
cannabis industry, it has been the slowest of the provinces and
territories to begin crafting its new rules, in part because of the
May election and subsequent hung parliament.

Last Friday, a provincial-municipal cannabis committee met for the
first time and plans to continue to meet every two weeks for the near
future to discuss issues such as where the drug will be sold and who
should should regulate the licences for this new brand of business.

While many of Vancouver's conservative suburbs have successfully
stamped out illegal dispensaries, the city's long history with the
drug made it easier for it to regulate the exploding number of
independent shops, according to councillor Kerry Jang, co-chair of the
provincialmunicipal cannabis committee.

"You've got a place like Richmond that has a huge Chinese population -
which is very anti-drug, period - I'd be surprised to see [a store
selling legal cannabis] in Richmond," said Mr. Jang, who pushed to
create Vancouver's landmark cannabisshop regulations. "That's got
nothing to do with cost or legislation - it's just the community
saying, 'We want nothing to do with it.' "

An online petition asking Ottawa to postpone or suspend the
legalization of the drug has garnered more than 4,600 signatures in
less than two weeks, according to the Richmond group behind the drive.
The 2018 July Marijuana Legalization Concern Group, led by Richmond
City Councillor Chak Au, states that legalization could mislead young
Canadians into thinking that smoking marijuana is harmless and added
that law enforcement are not ready for the rollout date of next July.

In the 2015 federal election, the Conservative Party posted an ad in
Metro Vancouver's Chinese-language newspapers, questioning Chinese
voters whether they agree with the Liberal Party's position on
legalizing cannabis.

"Do you have the common values with Justin Trudeau's Liberal Party?
The Liberal Party wants to legalize marijuana, which will make it more
accessible for children," The ad stated.

Liberal MP Joe Peschisolido, who represents the Steveston-Richmond
riding, said he agrees with the mayor and council's opposition to the
sale of cannabis in the city.

"Richmond is a small conservative place. It's a suburb. Our way of
doing things is different than in Burnaby and Vancouver."
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