Setting up a cannabis shop in Prince Rupert won’t be a simple as national legalization.
A bylaw amendment allowing cannabis stores to operate in the city passed its first reading at the Oct. 9 council meeting.
The reading is the first step for the city as it prepares for the upcoming legalization of marijuana, which will take place Oct. 17.
With the first reading, the bylaw amendment — Bylaw No. 3430, 2018 — has now moved into the review process where the city will collect community feedback on the proposed rules under which stores will be able to sell cannabis.
“There’s a process to go through here so nothing that’s being proposed is absolutely set in stone,” said Prince Rupert Mayor Lee Brain. “But it’s the proposed regulations that have been drafted and put out to the community.”
City planner Zeno Krekic presented his report to council where he states that the North Coast is “a substantial distance from the main markets for processing and in addition to our environment is not conducive to a large scale commercial cultivation. However, if this conclusion is incorrect, large commercial processing and/or cultivation projects can be considered in the future on their own merits.”
His report then focuses on the smaller retail businesses that may pop up.
In B.C., non-medical cannabis will be controlled by the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB), which will oversee the monitoring and licensing of non-medicinal cannabis retail sales in the province.
However, the LCRB will not issue a licence without a positive recommendation from the municipality the business wants to operate in, giving local governments control over how and where cannabis retailers can operate through their bylaws.
In addition to adding formal definitions for cannabis and cannabis retail sales the bylaw outlines an area where the retail sale of cannabis will be permitted in Prince Rupert. The cannabis retail area stretches roughly from Second Avenue West through downtown Prince Rupert to Cow Bay.
The bylaw would also prohibit any cannabis stores operating within 75 metres of one another to prevent a clustering of the businesses.
Following Krekic’s presentation, Coun. Joy Thorkelson asked if there would be spaces where people could smoke cannabis similar to a bar or brewery. Krekic responded that the current regulations only cover the sale of cannabis, and that smoking is not currently permitted on site.
“The only place you can consume cannabis is on your private premises,” he said.
Krekic also recommended that council direct city staff to schedule a public information session at Coast Mountain College.
Council approved the first reading unanimously, and will hold the public information session the college on Nov. 13 at 5:30 p.m.
Following the information session, there will be a second reading in council followed by a public hearing and a third reading.
Brain reiterated that the effectiveness of any municipal regulations on the sale of cannabis in Prince Rupert depends on the public being engaged in the process.
“We want to do it in a way that’s safe and responsible and makes sense for the community,” said Brain. “But we really need the community’s feedback to make sure that it’s designed in a way that actually gets as much consensus as possible for the community.”
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