Liquor laws sug­gested as tem­plate for pot sales

Staff re­port to be con­sid­ered to­day by Kelowna city coun­cil rec­om­mends mar­i­juana be sold at pri­vate, pub­lic stores sub­ject to mu­nic­i­pal zon­ing

The Daily Courier - - FRONT PAGE - By RON SEY­MOUR

Mar­i­juana should be sold at pri­vately owned pot shops as well as gov­ern­ment-con­trolled stores, Kelowna of­fi­cials say.

But mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties should be able to con­trol the num­ber of pot shops, as well as set reg­u­la­tions cov­er­ing their size and lo­ca­tion, says a re­port go­ing to city coun­cil to­day.

City of­fi­cials also suggest an un­spec­i­fied min­i­mum dis­tance be set be­tween liquor stores and pot shops.

Th­ese are the main rec­om­men­da­tions from city of­fi­cials in re­sponse to the B.C. gov­ern­ment’s pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion process on how mar­i­juana should be dis­trib­uted and sold when the drug be­comes le­gal next July.

“Cannabis should be sold from ded­i­cated store­fronts that can be con­trolled through mu­nic­i­pal land use,” the re­port to coun­cil sug­gests.

A model sim­i­lar to that cur­rently used for the dis­tri­bu­tion and sale of al­co­hol would be most fa­mil­iar to Bri­tish Columbians, city of­fi­cials suggest.

That means, among other things, that the le­gal age for mar­i­juana use should be 19 or higher, the same as it is for al­co­hol, city staff write in the re­port to coun­cil.

They also suggest a per­sonal pos­ses­sion max­i­mum of 30 grams be set for adults, but that pot smok­ing be banned in all out­door lo­ca­tions “with the ex­cep­tion of lo­cally de­ter­mined mar­i­juana smok­ing ar­eas.”

Coun­cil will de­bate staff’s rec­om­men­da­tions to­day with a view to either en­dors­ing them in their en­tirety or re­vis­ing cer­tain sec­tions.

The rec­om­men­da­tion from City of Kelowna staff to al­low pri­vately owned pot shops dif­fers from the ap­proach sug­gested last week by West Kelowna. That coun­cil’s rec­om­men­da­tion to Vic­to­ria is that mar­i­juana re­tail­ing take place only through gov­ern­ment-owned stores.

“There’d be all kinds of op­por­tu­ni­ties later, if it works, to change the re­tail­ing sys­tem,” Coun. Duane Ophus said at last Tues­day’s meet­ing.

To­day’s de­bate at Kelowna coun­cil is likely to see adop­tion of the staff’s rec­om­men­da­tion, as a ma­jor­ity of coun­cil­lors have al­ready sig­nalled their sup­port for mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties hav­ing con­trol over where pot shops would be al­lowed.

“We’re not talk­ing about med­i­cal mar­i­juana,” Coun. Luke Stack said in April. “We’re talk­ing about recre­ational mar­i­juana. I can’t see there be­ing any less reg­u­la­tion (for those kind of stores) than we see to­day for liquor store out­lets.”

At that meet­ing, Coun. Char­lie Hodge was the only one to suggest the city not try to im­pose rules on the lo­ca­tion and size of pot shops.

“I don’t see any rea­son why (pot shops) shouldn’t be treated like any other re­tail out­let,” Hodge said.

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