Pubdate: Thu, 22 Feb 2018
Source: Oliver Chronicle (CN BC)
Copyright: 2018 Oliver Chronicle
Author: Lyonel Doherty


As the B.C. government sets policy on the legalization of marijuana,
the towns of Oliver and Osoyoos are still wondering what that will
look like.

Oliver Mayor Ron Hovanes said his council has to have a formal
discussion on the topic.

"We had most recently suggested that any sale (of marijuana) should
take place through a government agency and the province has decided
against that."

Hovanes previously questioned if municipalities should have any role
in marijuana legalization. Council recently supported a call for local
governments to receive a share of the cannabis revenue to cover social
and policing costs.

Recently, Osoyoos council voted unanimously to support a request for
50 per cent of the provincial take.

Councillor Mike Campol said legalization will be a lot of work for
municipalities as far as bylaws and policing go.

The federal government has given provinces a timeline to set policies
for the legalization of non-medical cannabis this summer. These
policies will dictate how pot will be regulated in B.C.

In Osoyoos, Mayor Sue McKortoff said this is a "tricky" topic to deal

"Things seem to change daily on this issue. I do know that staff have
met to discuss what the town should do concerning zoning and bylaws,
but we are waiting for a staff report to come to council before we
make any decisions."

Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, said
additional research and analysis are required to set the framework.

"These decisions include safeguards for the retail sales of
non-medical cannabis and are driven by our priorities of protecting
youth, promoting health and safety, keeping the criminal element out
of cannabis and keeping our roads safe."

But even the RCMP don't have a clear handle on the coming rules
regarding marijuana and impaired driving.

The problem is a measurement for cannabis impairment hasn't been
determined yet. How much is too much? What should the limit be? These
are questions the government must answer. The method could be an oral
device similar to the roadside screening device used for alcohol detection.

Regardless, the ministry plans to increase training for police
officers to give them more tools to remove drug-impaired drivers from
the road. For example, the province will create a new 90-day driving
prohibition for drug-affected driving.

The regulations in BC will allow people of legal age to purchase
non-medical cannabis through privately-run retail stores or
government-operated stores.

The Liquor Control and Licensing Branch will license these private
stores and monitor the retail sector.

In urban areas, licensed retailers will only be allowed to sell
cannabis and accessories, but will be prohibited from selling other
products, such as food and clothing.

A different approach (exceptions) will be established for rural
marijuana stores, similar to those of rural liquor stores. These
exceptions have yet to be confirmed.

This spring, the province will launch an early registration process
for individuals and businesses who are interested in applying for a
cannabis retail licence. But according to the ministry, licences will
not be issued without the support of local governments.

When questioned further on this, the ministry told the Oliver
Chronicle there is no one-size-fits-all model for cannabis regulation.

"Applicants must have support from the local government in the
community where the proposed store would be located in order for the
province to issue a licence," said a ministry official.

The ministry says some local governments may choose not to allow
retail cannabis stores, while others may choose to limit the number of
stores within their jurisdiction.

In Oliver, the proprietor of Cannabliss Java and Tea on Main Street
hopes to open up shop this spring. In 2016 he (John Micka) operated
the shop, which sold cannabis-infused coffee.

"I'm not going to sell marijuana and I have no intention of doing
that," Micka told the Chronicle at that time.

In the meantime, Okanagan entrepreneur Tony Holler of Sunniva Inc. is
hoping to establish a 700,000 square-foot marijuana producing facility
in Senkulmen Business Park north of Oliver.

Another entrepreneur, Joseph Linkevic of Osoyoos Cannabis Inc., also
hopes to jump on the bandwagon with his own commercial production of
marijuana near Oliver.

According to the ministry, adults aged 19 years and older will be
allowed to possess up to 30 grams of non-medical cannabis in a public
place. Those under 19 will be prohibited from possessing any amount.

Cannabis transported in a motor vehicle will have to be in a sealed
package or inaccessible to vehicle occupants.

The ministry says smoking and vaping of non-medical cannabis will be
banned in areas frequented by children, including beaches, parks and
playgrounds. Local governments will be able to set additional
restrictions as they do now for tobacco use.

In addition, landlords and strata councils will have the authority to
restrict or prohibit non-medical cannabis smoking and vaping on strata

Under provincial regulations, adults will be permitted to grow up to
four marijuana plants per household, but the plants must not be
visible from a public space. Landlords will have the authority to
prohibit home cultivation.
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