EDITORIAL: The misconceptions of the Comox cannabis ban

The party isn’t cancelled; council just wants a delay

Do you remember the 1984 movie, Footloose?

The flick was about a town (Bomont) which, through the efforts of a local minister, prohibited dancing, and rock music.

Welcome to Comox: the 21st-century version of Bomont.

The local minister in this case is town council.

The dancing and rock music? Cannabis.

Town council has given first and second reading to Bylaw 1880, which would effectively prohibit the retail sale of cannabis anywhere within the town limits.

Council is holding a public hearing on Wednesday (April 4) at d’Esterre House, and if social media reaction is any indication, there will be a lot of public on hand, wanting to be heard.

The immediate reaction to the news is mostly disgust, but much of it is due to an apparent misunderstanding of the bylaw’s purpose.

Mayor Paul Ives informed The Record that the prohibition is being suggested mostly to keep order to the process. According to the mayor, the intent is not to have an infinite ban on cannabis; it’s strictly so that the Town is not inundated with business licence requests on July 1, with no plan of action in place.

There are many considerations to address before allowing cannabis retail stores free reign: how far should they be from elementary schools? Distance from daycares? Should they be adjacent to liquor outlets? Will there be restricted hours of operation?

Once town planners derive a set of guidelines covering all the areas of concern, the plan is to revisit Bylaw 1880, and amend it for the allowance of retail cannabis operations under a set of conditions.

The conspiracy theorists and the pessimists are convinced that the Town has no intentions of ever amending the bylaw, and the only way to avoid a total, infinite ban of cannabis in Comox is to crush this bylaw before it gets into the books.

We are of a less catastrophic mindset.

Whether or not an actual bylaw is needed in order to slow the natural glacial speed of the bureaucratic process in any municipality is arguable.

But we have been assured that once the proper blueprint is in place, there will be legal cannabis in Comox… and dancing in the streets.

–Terry Farrell

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