Pubdate: Sat, 03 Feb 2018
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2018 Times Colonist
Author: Richard Watts
Page: A9


Civil lawsuits over cannabis sales, such as the one the City of
Victoria won last week, are part of a new, civilized approach to pot,
says a B.C. lawyer,

"At least in British Columbia, we have evolved to the point where the
response is not to just send in the police," Kirk Tousaw said. "We now
take [cannabis sellers] through the normal civil litigation process
that you would use with any non-compliant business."

Tousaw has spoken on Canada's marijuana laws before the Supreme Court
of Canada and argued on behalf of clients from New Brunswick to B.C.
He has also represented Ted Smith, Victoria's longtime cannabis crusader.

The City of Victoria recently defended its right to deny a business
licence to Green Dragon Medicinal Society, a cannabis dispensary at
541 Herald St.

B.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson ruled the city
had properly followed its procedures when it denied a rezoning to the
dispensary. Without proper zoning, Green Dragon could not obtain a
business licence and has closed.

In 2016, Victoria established a bylaw under which cannabis outlets
operate. They are required to obtain appropriate zoning, and then
apply for a business licence.

Green Dragon was denied proper zoning because it was 155 metres from
the Chinese Public School. Victoria's bylaw forbids cannabis stores
within 200 metres of a school.

Tousaw said he might disagree with the distance requirement, but
disagreements like that can be taken up in front of a judge in a civil

"[Civil litigation] is certainly a step forward," he said. "Doors
aren't being kicked in, people aren't being handcuffed, thrown into
cages and facing the prospect of criminal sanction."

He said regulations over cannabis will soon be necessary and normal
everywhere in Canada, when the federal government legalizes its
recreational use on July 1.

"We can always quibble about the rules and regulations," Tousaw said.
"But, ultimately, there is going to be some kind of regulation.

"When there are disputes [about the regulations], they can be worked
out in front of a judge."
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