City council is considering changes to its zoning bylaw that would prohibit marijuana operations – including dispensaries – in Campbell River.
City staff said the city’s position is that the sale of marijuana is illegal, as dictated by the federal government.
At Monday night’s council meeting, city council gave first and second reading to a bylaw amendment that prohibits all marijuana operations unless they are legally permitted through Health Canada and have the proper paperwork to prove it.
The city is defining ‘marijuana operation’ as cultivating, growing, producing, packaging, storing, distributing, dispensing, destroying, trading or selling of cannabis or its derivatives.
Kevin Brooks, the city’s development services supervisor, said in light of medical marijuana dispensaries popping up around the province, including two in Campbell River – Trees Dispensary and WeeMedical – there’s a need for clarity over the legality of such shops.
“Although there are municipalities who have made the decision to begin licensing cannabis dispensaries in the absence of federal government legislation, staff recommend that the City of Campbell River does not follow suit,” Brooks said. “It is recommended that city council only consider permitting cannabis dispensaries once the federal government makes a decision to decriminalize this use, as such the suggested additions to the zoning bylaw are recommended to clarify this issue.”
Brooks said there are numerous organizations wishing to open unauthorized marijuana operations and when such facilities open without federal government approval, the enforcement falls upon local RCMP and communities, resulting in increased strain on city resources.
Trees Dispensary on 14th Avenue has already been paid at least one visit by the RCMP which raided the dispensary last Thursday afternoon.
Mounties seized all money, cannabis flower and cannabis extracts on site but did not confiscate any of the edible marijuana products.
Alex Robb, spokesperson for Trees, told the Mirror last week that the police’s actions indicate they view cannabis flowers and cannabis extracts as illegal.
WeeMedical, meanwhile, has been visited by city bylaw officers. City Clerk Peter Wipper said the city and the RCMP are monitoring the situation with the dispensaries.
“Until such time that the federal government changes the rules, it will be the city’s position that the use of a marijuana dispensary would be illegal.”
Mayor Andy Adams said Monday night that the city, however, is prepared to change the bylaw again to reflect the federal government’s rules around production and distribution once that decision is made.
“There’s no question the world is changing in this regard,” Adams said. “What we’re saying is that the City of Campbell River will be ready to make amendments to the bylaw as soon as there’s clarity from the federal and provincial governments.”
With council giving first and second reading to the bylaw amendment to prohibit marijuana operations, a public hearing has been triggered.
The hearing will likely take place at the start of the April 25 council meeting and the public is invited to speak to the amendment.