Controversial Comox cannabis bylaw tabled to later this month

A decision on a contentious Comox bylaw surrounding the plan to temporarily ban marijuana sales will have to wait until later this month.

A crowd of about 50 people filled the d’Esterre Seniors’ Centre Association Wednesday evening for a public hearing regarding Comox Zoning Amendment Bylaw 1880 – an amendment to prohibit the sale of cannabis within the town.

According to Comox Mayor Paul Ives, the amendment is being sought to buy time for the Town to plan for the impending legalization of recreational marijuana sales and use.

He told The Record last week the bylaw is the first step of a two-step process. The second step, he explained, will set some parameters around where and when retail sales can occur.

According to Ives, once the parameters have been established, the bylaw will be amended and licences will be considered for retail sales of marijuana in Comox.

Four people spoke at the public hearing – two in favour of the bylaw and two against.

“I’ve seen the Town use this precautionary approach before, and I encourage it to follow through to step two,” noted resident Don Jacquest. “It’s a good safe first step.”

Owner and pharmacy manager of the Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy in Comox Catherine McCann (who currently dispenses under prescription a cannabinoid) also spoke in favour, but warned council “the devil is in the details.”

“Your definition of cannabis is quite broad … it’s very concerning to me that retail outlets – dispensaries – are misleading to the public. You won’t get the traditional pharmacy services in these outlets.”

Both John McNamee and Sharon Middleton spoke against the bylaw, and both took issue in particular with the word ‘ban.’

“It’s not progressive enough … if you have a ban in place right out of the gate, businesses are going to go elsewhere. We need to move faster,” added Middleton.

At the conclusion of the public hearing, council had the opportunity to vote on the third reading of the bylaw. Coun. Ken Grant proposed a motion to table the bylaw until the next council meeting on April 18; the motion was unanimously adopted.

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