Comox opts for ‘blank sheet’ when it comes to cannabis bylaw

Comox council unanimously approved a bylaw to prohibit the sale of cannabis within the town.

Calling it a ‘blank sheet’ to work from, Comox council unanimously approved a bylaw to prohibit the sale of cannabis within the town Wednesday.

Councillors were quick to point out that Comox Zoning Amendment Bylaw 1880 is not a ban on the sale of marijuana, but rather the first step in a process while municipalities wait for word from both provincial and federal governments.

“This is something coming out of prohibition after many years,” explained Mayor Paul Ives. “There will be further public process; local government does have a role to play. It will be very similar to someone who wants to open a liquor store. We need to have a good set of regulations with criteria as to where stores are located.”

Earlier this month, a public hearing was held to receive feedback from the public, with four people speaking at the meeting – two in favour and two against.

Prior to the vote, Coun. Russ Arnott warned the public “about the big, ugly word ‘ban’ … it’s more about ‘where.’ ”

He added while he is in favour of the motion, he does understand the role to regulate cannabis sales.

Ives responded the province is only now getting its regulations in order.

“It’s a land use planning issue for us – if we should have stores and where – that will come within the next few months.”

Coun. Hugh MacKinnon said following a recent presentation at the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities convention last weekend, he is in favour of waiting for further regulations.

“The legal advice there strongly suggested that municipalities wait until federal and provincial legislation come through. The lawyer recommended there that the prudent thing to do is almost appear to say a draconian ‘no’ with the intent to say yes down the road. We’ll be in control rather than reacting things as a council … and deal with the police and create an atmosphere with entrepreneurs that come where there’s not trust between not only with themselves and council, but perhaps themselves and the RCMP.”

Following the vote (Couns. Ken Grant and Maureen Swift were not present), Richard Kanigan, the Town’s chief administrative officer noted there should be a report from staff in May or June, along with a public information meeting set for June.

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