Pubdate: Sat, 28 Oct 2017
Source: Kelowna Capital News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017, West Partners Publishing Ltd.
Author: Alistair Waters


Kelowna city staff say cannabis should only be sold from storefront
dispensaries licenced by the provincial government and under rules
similar to existing liquor stores. And their locations and operations
should be controlled by municipal land use zoning and bylaws.

Those are the key recommendations in a report to go to city council
Monday morning after the province asked municipalities across the B.C.
for input about how marijuana and cannabis products should be
distributed once the federal government makes them legal next July.

The Kelowna staff report says a model similar to that currently used
in B.C. to sell alcohol would be most familiar across the province. It
would also ensure municipalities can control where storefront
dispensaries are located to make sure they are not set up near schools
or parks.

"A provincial licensing system with fees for dispensaries similar to
licensee retail store liquor sales model (should be used)," says the
report. "A provincial branch and inspection model should also mirror
the LCLB (Liquor Control and Licencing Branch) model."

The province should also allow municipal control over the number of
licences issued for storefront dispensaries, as well as the location
and the size, says the report, and the province should indicate a
minimum distance between cannabis storefront dispensaries and retail
liquor stores.

Other recommendations include the minimum age for cannabis consumption
should be the same or higher than it is for alcohol (19) and the
maximum possession amount for adults should be 30 grams. Youths should
not be allowed to possess it, but if they are found with up to five
grams in their possession, there should be no charges, just

Staff are also recommending the province restrict consumption of
cannabis products in publicly accessible places to specific "marijuana
smoking areas."

The report says the city should be allowed to regulate personal
cultivation of cannabis plants with permits for home growing. Four
plants per household should be the maximum and no plant should be more
than one metre in height. Growing should be prohibited inside
residences of all buildings in residential areas. The B.C. Building
Code should also be updated to mitigate potential negative impacts of
home growing operations.

The recommendations will go to Kelowna city council for consideration
at its morning meeting on Monday.

The Kelowna recommendations differ from what West Kelowna council
decided to forward to Victoria earlier this week. West Kelowna council
wants cannabis products to be sold only through government-operated
stores. But it said if dispensaries are allowed, it should have the
power to regulate them through municipal zoning.

Currently, Kelowna city hall says it knows of nine private
dispensaries operating in the city. Unlike West Kelowna, it has not
issued any business licences to dispensary operators so it cannot
follow its neighbour's lead and cancel the licences in a bid to shut
down existing private storefront dispensaries.

But Kelowna city clerk Stephen Fleming said anyone inquiring about
opening a dispensary in Kelowna is told such operations are illegal
and operators could be subject to enforcement action.

"(Those inquiries) have happened and are happening," he

The issue of private, storefront dispensaries has become an issue in
towns and cities across the province in recent years and in the
Okanagan, municipalities have held meetings at the staff and political
levels to discuss coordinating a unified response.

In April, Kelowna amended its zoning bylaw to prohibit storefront
sales of cannabis products because, in Canada, they are currently illegal.

At the time, the city's community planning manager Ryan Smith said
dispensary operators should take a second look at what they are doing
in Kelowna.

"If you own a dispensary and you are doing storefront dispensing of
marijuana, I think that you should rethink the model that you've
chosen and maybe take a step back and try to focus on a different
business model rather than retailing marijuana until we know what the
rules are going to be from the federal and provincial governments," he
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