Municipalities racing the pot legalization clock

With time running out, B.C. cities still are not sure what the retail landscape will look like once recreational pot is legalized.

If local governments are looking with unease at the looming legalization of recreational marijuana, it’s not surprising.

There have been precious few facts for them to build on.

Last week the provincial government tried to clear some of the smoke with its release of how it would manage distribution and sale of the product.

But questions still remain.

The biggest is how municipalities will regulate the retail stores that will sell the cannabis products.

Although the province, through its liquor distribution branch, will manage the wholesale distribution, local sales will be a mix of private and government outlets.

The permit process for those storefronts, however, will rest with local government. They’ll have the final say on where the stores will be located, how far they can be situated from a school, or even if they’ll be allowed at all.

The provincial government is currently working with the Union of B.C. Municipalities to come up with some kind of broad plan.

But the clock is ticking.

The federal government has promised legalization by July. Retail sales aren’t expected to follow immediately; it will take some time for growers of what is still an illegal product to supply inventory.

However, industry is certainly getting prepared nonetheless. Recruitment companies have even been created to help supply workers for this burgeoning industry. In the interior, plans are in place for what’s being billed as the largest growing facility in the province, with 700,000 square feet of space and an annual production capability of 100,000 kilograms per year.

These projects aren’t just big, they’re lucrative. An Ontario licensed marijuana producer recently bought a similar B.C. company for a reported $230 million.

The city of Chilliwack, meanwhile, approved a rezoning application Tuesday for a 26,000 square foot medical marijuana facility on industrial land on Aitken Road.

That brought some discussion about the city’s participation in a trade that’s still fighting to find some legitimacy.

That conversation is likely to get louder as Chilliwack provides greater clarity on zoning applications, hours of operation and the number – if any – of retail stores allowed in the city.

There is still time for Chilliwack to develop a cohesive strategy that acknowledges this new regulatory reality, while still providing rules that discourage access by minors and reflect neighbourhood concern.

But that time is running out. Local governments need to make known their plans following the full decriminalization of marijuana, while providing ample opportunity for public feedback and discussion.

The result likely won’t satisfy everyone, but it is a conversation that needs to start happening sooner, rather than later.

Greg Knill is editor of the Chilliwack Progress

Just Posted

‘Police are ready’ for legal pot, say Canadian chiefs

But Canadians won’t see major policing changes as pot becomes legal

Illegal dumping pushes BC Conservation to the tipping point

Terrace office may bring violators to court to seek higher penalties

Natural gas pipeline cost soars

Coastal GasLink to carry gas from northeastern B.C. to LNG Canada plant at Kitimat

Airport wants LNG companies to build own terminals

Best way to handle expected crush of traffic

Video: An up-close look at beluga whales in Hudson Bay

An up-close look as some belugas greet whale watchers off the coast of Churchill, Manitoba

Sockeye run in Shuswap expected to be close to 2014 numbers

Salute to the Sockeye on Adams River continues until Sunday, Oct. 21 at 4 p.m.

Michelle Mungall’s baby first in B.C. legislature chamber

B.C. energy minister praises support of staff, fellow MLAs

Canucks: Pettersson in concussion protocol, Beagle out with broken forearm

Head coach Travis Green called the hit ‘a dirty play’

5 tips for talking to your kids about cannabis

Health officials recommend sharing a harm reduction-related message.

NHL players say Canada’s legalization of marijuana won’t impact them

NHL players say the legalization of marijuana in Canada won’t change how they go about their business.

Automated cars could kill wide range of jobs, federal documents say

Internal government documents show that more than one million jobs could be lost to automated vehicles, with ripple effects far beyond the likeliest professions.

Private marijuana stores should shut down, Mike Farnworth says

B.C. has approved 62 licences, but they still need local approval

HPV vaccine does not lead to riskier sex among teen girls: UBC

Girls are less likely to have sex now than they were a decade ago

Most Read