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
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.