Cities debate marijuana dispensary authority

Not all are ready to follow Vancouver, Victoria in defying federal law to manage purportedly medical pot stores

'Bongy' promotes a head shop in Esquimalt

With medical marijuana dispensaries continuing to open in defiance of federal law, more B.C. communities have joined the call for local authority to regulate what are often little more than retail pot stores.

Lower Mainland communities found majority support at last week’s Union of B.C. Municipalities convention to bypass legal wrangling over medical marijuana access, as a court challenge continues against the Conservative government’s strict controls on growing and selling it legally.

Maple Ridge Coun. Corisa Bell said other cities are facing the same issues as Vancouver, where about 100 dispensaries have opened in a free-for all with street-level marketing to young people. Vancouver ignored instructions from federal Health Minister Rona Ambrose to use authorized sources of medical marijuana, and adopted a licensing system last spring to keep pot shops away from schools, community centres and each other.

Vancouver set a licence fee of $30,000 for dispensaries and $1,000 for non-profit “compassion clubs,” with Victoria preparing to follow suit. But other communities don’t have the same revolutionary zeal.

Esquimalt Coun. Susan Low, whose community banned the pipe-headed mascot “Bongy” from hawking wares of a marijuana paraphernalia store in 2013, said she isn’t qualified to regulate medical pot. The Lower Mainland proposal also doesn’t prevent a patchwork of different rules in adjoining communities, Low said.

Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart said the latest resolution seems intended to stick to municipal authority over location and zoning, but it doesn’t say so explicitly, and the UBCM loses credibility when it wanders outside its mandate.

Port Alberni Coun. Jack McLeman said he supports the two-year-old UBCM endorsement of legalizing pot, although his drug of choice for pain is Scotch whisky. He said his council has been approached about medical dispensaries, and invited applications, but no one followed through.

“Just legalize the junk,” McLeman said. “Don’t tell me it’s your aspirin.”

Maple Ridge Coun. Craig Speirs drew laughter from delegates when he said there was “some consternation” when his city’s first dispensary opened, “but it’s proved to have a calming effect on the neighbourhood.”

The motion to support municipal control over pot stores passed in a show of hands, with about one third of those attending opposed.

Just Posted

Three strong earthquakes reported off Vancouver Island

The quakes, all measuring more than 6.0 on the richter scale, were about 260 kilometres west of Tofino

Mother passes SD70 trustee torch to daughter in Port Alberni

Jane Jones loses after one term, but proud of her daughter Connie Watts

ELECTION 2018: Sharie Minions named Port Alberni mayor

Haggard, Solda, Washington, Poon, Paulson and Corbeil named councillors

Four incumbents re-elected to School District 70 in Port Alberni

Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District board will have a new look

2018 municipal election: Few surprises on Vancouver Island

16 incumbent mayors will continue in their positions for four more years

B.C. sailor surprised by humpback whale playing under her boat

Jodi Klahm-Kozicki said the experience was ‘magical’ near Denman Island

B.C. government moves to tighten resource industry regulations

New superintendent will oversee engineers, biologists, foresters

Election watchdog seeks digitally savvy specialists to zero in on threats

Move follows troublesome evidence of online Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election

More court before Dutch man charged in Amanda Todd case is extradited here

Appeals must be dealt with in Europe, before charges faced in B.C.

Crown says man guilty of B.C. girl’s 1978 murder based on alleged confession

Jury hears details of girl’s 1978 murder while Crown says man should be convicted of girl’s murder based on alleged confession.

BCHL alumni has NHL jersey retired by Anaheim Ducks

Paul Kariya played with the Penticton Vees from 1990-1992

Most Read