100 Mile House may be following the lead of Williams Lake in making the area a hub for commercial marijuana once it becomes legalized during the summer.
“If the business is legal and legitimate we will welcome them with open arms and do what we can to locate them into 100 Mile House,” said Coun. Dave Mingo.
It is expected the legalization of the plant-based drug will create a large industry and economy, from testing to production to growing and of course, retail.
Mingo couldn’t comment on if the council has received any proposals but if they did it, the approval would be based on what it was for and if it would fit the Official Community Plan (OCP) and zoning.
“We want to make sure no matter what business it is that it’s going into the right area. We got to make sure it’s going into the right area,” said Mingo.
For instance, a testing or lab facility would be classified as a light industrial type and would be put in a zone to accommodate that type of use and away from a residential zone. A growing business is classified as agricultural and would be also allowed in the corresponding zone.
Margo Wagner, chair of the Cariboo Regional District, said the legislation of operating such businesses are extremely strict and costly for the average person.
“In order to make it worthwhile, you have to have a fairly large facility and it has to be a greenhouse type because we don’t get the right number of hours of daylight, sunlight and darkness these plants need to produce their maximum capacity,” she said. “In order to make this a viable business entity, you are going to have to have year-round production. With our winters the cost is going to be fairly astronomical.”
She did say there were some inquiries within the CRD but to her knowledge, there haven’t been any proposals that have moved forward.
If it’s a retail opportunity, it is more likely marijuana products would be sold from liquor retailers due to regulations set by the provincial government.
Wagner said the district’s biggest concern is how the province is going to allow the sale of marijuana because the rural areas don’t have anything set in place to have business licenses.
“The government seems to be leaning towards possibly having the liquor outlets to sell it and the biggest thing I think the rural areas around a municipality or district would be pushing for is to make sure that if that’s the way the provincial government decides to go for that it comes from an actual BC Liquor rural distribution store like in 100 Mile, not a liquor outlet that for instance, Forest Grove has [the Forest Grove General Store],” said Wagner.
While the latter may have a license to sell liquor, it may not be beholden to the same hours or have the same level of security and control, which the CRD finds concerning.
Mingo said the medicinal use of the plant will be more beneficial to the district’s ageing society but doesn’t think the district will see any change in recreational use.
“I’d be surprised if there was a huge jump in recreational use. I think people who are already using it recreationally have already found ways to attain it and they will continue to just buy it legally,” he said, adding that he did see one concern with the use. “My concern is going to be how do you police the stoned user out on the roads? How do you deal with someone that is impaired and how they can affect the safety of someone else? That is my biggest fear.”