You won’t be seeing any marijuana dispensaries popping up in the Town of Ladysmith unless and until the Liberal government of Prime Minister Justine Trudeau lives up to its commitment to decriminalize or legalize marijuana use and sale in such a way as to make pot shops legal.
Mayor Aaron Stone made that clear when asked by Rob Johnson during question period at a Dec. 7 council meeting, if Ladysmith had received any requests for business licenses to operate a marijuana dispensary, and if requests had been turned down, why?
“Has council or the town been approached requesting a business license for a marijuana dispensary?” Johnson wanted to know.
“Medical marijuana dispensaries are not legal,” City Manager Ruth Malli said, “so if we were to get that type of application, we would refer it to the RCMP.”
Johnston then asked if the Supreme Court of Canada had not ruled ingestible marijuana or marijuana oils legal, which would mean they could be treated the same way as products sold in health food stores or herbal pharmacies?
Stone said that is not the case. The laws have been changed to treat ‘edibles’ and ‘oils’ the same as dry marijuana products, which means they can only be distributed through Canada Post by government regulated distributors.
“So all these dispensaries that you see – and of course in the last week they were shut down by the RCMP in Nanaimo – are not legal under the Criminal Code of Canada,” Stone said.
He explained that larger cities with their own municipal police forces are able to skirt the laws prohibiting marijuana dispensaries, but that doesn’t make them legal.
“Victoria and Vancouver both have taken a very progressive view on it,” Stone explained. “But they are municipal police forces – the RCMP do not operate in their areas – so they do have a measure of control, unlike Nanaimo, which is an RCMP community.”
Stone said ‘we could get into a debate’ about the appropriateness of allowing dispensaries, but that it’s not really under the purview of communities like Ladysmith, which are policed by the RCMP.
People who want to distribute marijuana seem to be aware of that.
“I don’t think we’ve had any applications for business licenses for dispensaries to this point,” he said.
“I think some of the enthusiasm you may have seen for dispensaries has been quelled a little bit by actions on the Sunshine Coast and in Nanaimo in the last couple of weeks by RCMP.”
As for ignoring the law, and licensing dispensaries in spite of it, Stone reiterated that’s not likely. “I can’t speak for other members of council, but I think we are a pretty progressive group,” he said, “but we also look at respecting the laws of the land.”