Pubdate: Wed, 10 Jan 2018
Source: Morning Star, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2018 The Morning Star
Author: Barry Gerding
Page: A5


Vernon City Hall continues to walk a line of uncertainty over how and
where marijuana might be legally purchased in the city.

While Ottawa is on board with legalizing the sale of marijuana, the
province is yet to work out the rules for its retail

As a result, all B.C. communities are left in a zoning bylaw quandary
on how to proceed.

In response on Monday, council gave first reading to bylaw 5000
amendments limiting the sale of cannabis in Vernon retail outlets to
provide some legal clarification until the province mandates how and
where marijuana is to be sold.

The city has already moved to permit temporary business licenses to
cannabis dispensaries operational prior to Nov. 14, 2017. That move
will preclude any qualifying dispensaries to be grandfathered in as
legal non-conforming once the regulations are finalized.

Otherwise, the amendments preclude the location of pot dispensaries in
convenience stores, general retail stores, liquor stores, service
retail businesses or mobile street vendors pending further direction
from the province.

Related: Vernon looks to close cannabis shops

Kim Flick, director of community development for the City of Vernon,
said the province is expected to introduce the playing field rules for
selling marijuana by July of this year.

"They kind of gave us half the rules last year and the other half are
coming this year. So it puts municipalities in a tough spot not
knowing what those rules will ultimately be," Flick said.

Coun. Scott Anderson said those rules will fall within two extremes -
to limit the sale of marijuana to government liquor stores or
widespread retail access.

Anderson also introduced a resolution recommending the province grant
individual municipalities the jurisdiction to allow or ban cannabis
dispensaries from their community.

"I'm not saying I would want to enforce that," Anderson said. "I just
think a community should have the jurisdiction to make that decision."

Coun. Juliette Cunningham disagreed with Anderson's motion, saying it
was unfair to those people who require access to marijuana for medical

"I also don't think that four people on a council (majority vote)
should be in a position to make that kind of moral decision," she
said. "A lot of polling has been done on this and it clearly shows
that the majority of people polled are in favour of it."

Coun. Bob Spiers noted council will still have control in its zoning
bylaws where marijuana dispensaries can be located, such as not being
near schools or playgrounds and how many are allowed on a city block.

"Zoning is still our best weapon for having some control on this,"
Spiers said.

A public hearing on the zoning amendments will be heard Monday, Jan.
22, 5:30 p.m., at Vernon City Hall.
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