Pubdate: Sun, 12 Nov 2017
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 Times Colonist
Author: Bill Cleverley
Page: A1


The province should develop a licensing regime to allow for designated
cannabis-consumption lounges when marijuana becomes legal next year,
say Victoria councillors.

"We're seeing a need for it in our community right now, as there are
lounges that are operating illegally based on our regulations and
current laws," said Coun. Jeremy Loveday.

The recommendation will be part of a suite of suggestions the city
will forward to the province for consideration as it crafts
regulations governing the production, sale and use of marijuana, which
the federal government plans to make legal by next summer.

Mayor Lisa Helps said the city has received a lot of pushback against
its prohibition on cannabis consumption in dispensaries and/or
lounges. But the issue is more properly dealt with through provincial
regulation, because it is a health issue, not a business-licensing
issue, Helps said.

Faced with a glut of illegal cannabis dispensaries, Victoria has been
attempting to regulate pot shops - ensuring that the retailers selling
cannabis are properly zoned and that they meet special city
business-licence requirements covering aspects of operations ranging
from signs to ventilation to security.

But city regulations do not allow marijuana consumption on business
premises - something marijuana advocates say discriminates against
some renters and strata residents who might be prohibited from smoking
in their homes.

The city's recommendations to the province come at the same time the
city has been turning to the courts to shut down both commercial
lounges that allow marijuana smoking and those retailers that have not
applied for business licences or rezoning.

The province has invited input from municipalities on aspects ranging
from the minimum age for cannabis possession and consumption to
distribution and retailing of pot to drug-impaired-driving laws.

Councillors also recommend that provincial regulations ensure that
clean-air bylaws protecting others, including employees, from
second-hand smoke also apply to cannabis smoke.

Coun. Geoff Young said it's important to avoid the "ridiculous
situation" that would arise if smoking cannabis were allowed in places
where tobacco smoking was not.

"We'd have people marketing cigarettes with a tiny gram of cannabis in
them so they could claim that anti-smoking bylaws didn't apply to
them," Young said. "All of the health benefits we've gained by control
of smoking would be lost."

Recommendations to the province will include:

* The minimum age for cannabis possession should be the same age as
for the purchase and consumption of liquor (19).

* The province should establish a licensing scheme to allow for
designated consumption lounges with a model that takes into
consideration the health and well-being of all users and employees.

* Council supports strong restrictions on drug-impaired driving,
including zero tolerance for impairment by cannabis in the
graduated-licensing program (drivers with "L" or "N" designation) and
awareness campaigns expanding roadside testing, suspension and
prohibition programs for drug-impaired driving.

* The legalization frameworks should be constructed so as to lower
policing-enforcement costs for municipalities.

* With the exception of provincially regulated smoking lounges, local
smoking regulations should apply to the smoking of cannabis.

* The province should introduce a distribution model for medical and
non-medical cannabis that maintains opportunities for local
enterprise, craft enterprise and small business in cultivation,
distribution and retail sale.

* The province should develop a retailing regime that makes room for
both public and private retail operations, including regulations
ensuring that there is a provincial standard for retailers, and that
local governments retain their zoning authority for locating both
public and private retail outlets.
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