Further regulations will be imposed on marijuana dispensaries in Port Alberni, following recommendations from the chamber of commerce.
In a letter dated Dec. 3, the chamber agreed with the proposed city regulations but asked for a few of their own: requiring all not-for-profit dispensaries to still have a business licence; not allowing them at Harbour Quay or Victoria Quay because they are high tourist areas; increased enforcement of business licence bylaws in general and that smoking regulations from the BC Tobacco laws would also apply to dispensaries.
But not everyone agrees that regulations are the way to go.
Resident Neil Anderson was up in front of council not once but twice during Monday’s meeting to scold council for what he called “condoning illegal activity.”
“What are the guidelines as to what laws we enforce and which laws we ignore?” Anderson challenged city council.
“The motion passed by council is in my opinion no more than an effort to avoid addressing a difficult and controversial issue.”
Previously proposed zoning bylaw amendments include limiting dispensaries to commercial zones only, keeping them 300 metres away from schools, 1000 metres away from other dispensaries, not allowing ATMs at dispensaries and not allowing dual usage for dispensaries.
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The regulations, proposed by city planner Scott Smith, mirror those in Vancouver.
However, Anderson thinks that Port Alberni shouldn’t be so hasty in following Vancouver’s example.
“At last count, Vancouver had over 100 dispensaries, 200 applications—more marijuana dispensaries than Starbucks stores, two times the number of Tim Hortons,” he said.
Following the meeting, Coun. Ron Paulson challenged Anderson’s assertion than regulating dispensaries meant that the city was condoning them.
“The stuff is illegal—on that aspect, Mr. Anderson and I are absolutely on the same side,” he said.
“This puts us in a really tight spot.”
But Paulson still believes that doing something is better than nothing.
Medical marijuana is presently regulated at the federal level. However, municipalities such as Vancouver have imposed their own regulatory bylaws.
“Council understands perfectly that this is illegal. But if we’re sitting back, doing nothing and waiting for the RCMP then it’s the Wild West out there—it’s open game, open season,” he said.
“But we, from our side, can try to get some control over this before there’s 10 here.”