Courtenay council ponders pot problems

Courtenay city council spent some time during its committee of the whole meeting Monday to discuss some of the issues that will arise with the legalization of marijuana.

Once the Cannabis Act comes into effect in July 2018, non-medical marijuana will be legal across Canada, and provinces will be responsible for a variety of regulatory components.

Courtenay Mayor Larry Jangula worries that municipalities will be stuck with the problem, and not reap any benefits, when marijuana is legalized next summer.

For that reason, 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. “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 for retail sale of cannabis, the potential for regulations in relation to public consumption, and to communicate with the provincial government that the municipality receive a significant share of revenue from sales generated from this area to support enforcement and other related costs.

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