With recreational marijuana set to be legal in Canada by this Oct. 17, Langley City and Township are still waiting to see what measures they’ll need to take.
Although Ottawa has voted to legalize recreational pot, it is the province that will have to set guidelines for sales and distribution, and local municipal governments that will have to deal with details on zoning and business licenses for any new stores that want to open.
“The legislation, the requirements are still very much fluid,” said Francis Cheung, administrator for Langley City.
City staff and the council are still receiving information and, once concrete regulations appear, they’ll get down to the business of crafting more detailed rules.
One area the City will have to look at is zoning.
“Where are the community retail cannabis stores going to be located?” said Cheung.
Hand in hand with that goes business licensing.
Langley Township is also considering its options, and may need new rules, said Ramin Seifi, general manager of community development.
“Our current bylaw framework… does not provide for such operations, in other words cannabis retail operations, anywhere,” Seifi said.
A prospective cannabis store operator could ask for a rezoning, but it would have to be granted on a case-by-case basis right now, Seifi said.
“We are awaiting provincial regulations to come in as well,” Seifi said. “Whenever they come into effect, we can then decide how we wish to proceed.”
The City is also considering the impact of home grown pot. The federal regulations allow up to four plants to be grown at home for personal use.
“What about concern about mould?” Cheung said. What plumbing and fire safety issues could home cultivation raise, he asked.
Then there are amendments to smoking bylaws that could be made, to restrict smoking marijuana near playgrounds or other areas where children gather.
The public and other government agencies will be partners in some of these changes. A public hearing will be held if there is an amended zoning bylaw, and the ministry of health will need to approve anti-smoking rules, Cheung said.
It will be up to local governments whether to amend the laws in advance of the date of legalization, or to wait until after October 17.