Following a discussion paper distributed to municipalities across the province on marijuana legalization and regulation within B.C., the Town of Comox has submitted their response on Bill C-45.
The Cannabis Act comes into effect in July 2018, and non-medical marijuana will be legal across Canada, and provinces will be responsible for a variety of regulatory components.
In an effort to support the development of provincial regulatory frameworks, the provincial government reached out to local governments, a variety of stakeholders and the public who can submit their feedback via the BC Cannabis Regulation Engagement website (http://engage.gov.bc.ca/BCcannabisregulation/).
In his report to council at Wednesday’s committee of the whole meeting, Richard Kanigan, the town’s chief administrative officer, noted staff have conducted an initial review of the provincial information and provided a variety of recommendations, including minimum age, personal possession and distribution.
Kanigan recommended council suggest the minimum age for marijuana possession be 19 years old. As for personal possessions for adults, public consumption and drug-impaired driving, staff did not comment on the matter, and referred back to the province.
More than 30,000 individuals made submissions online through the province’s website, explained Mayor Paul Ives, who noted he does have concerns with distribution.
“We may need to look at zoning issues, like we did on beer and liquor stores. We have to make sure we have that in place before July 1.”
Coun. Ken Grant suggested to council that it would be good to look at what the City of Courtenay is putting forward, “and try and make something that works the same with both (municipalities).”
Courtenay Mayor Larry Jangula worries that municipalities will be stuck with the problem, and not reap any benefits, when marijuana is legalized next summer.
Which is why he feels that towns and cities are entitled to receive the lion’s share of tax dollars.
He said there is no indication of what cannabis contains, and notes that police will have a difficult time charging drug-impaired drivers.
“In Vancouver, there are more marijuana storefronts than there are Starbucks,” Jangula said Monday at committee of the whole. “Can people smoke pot all the time? These are all huge concerns.”
Jangula feels council needs to lobby for cannabis to be sold through something like the Liquor Control Board.
Coun. Doug Hillian agrees that municipalities should receive a fair share of tax dollars derived from pot sales. He is also concerned that legalizing pot will mean more smoking in public, but Hillian doesn’t feel the ‘sky is falling,’ considering marijuana is already highly used.
“I don’t know if it’s going to change exponentially,” he said.
At a previous meeting, council asked staff to investigate business licensing and zoning regulations pertaining to marijuana. On Monday, the committee approved Hillian’s motion for staff to look at zoning potential pertaining to retail sales of cannabis, and to communicate with senior governments to ensure the City receives its fair share of tax revenue.