B.C. communities struggling to deal with unregulated marijuana sales are looking for help, or a piece of the action, as growers and sellers compete for a share of the expanding legal market.
Pot problems are high on the agenda for the annual Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in September, as local governments continue to deal with fire hazards and retail outlets selling untested marijuana products in defiance of federal and local laws.
The UBCM convention will be held in Victoria from Sept. 26 to Sept. 30.
Nelson and Duncan councils are calling on the provincial and federal governments to share tax revenue with local governments, when the Justin Trudeau government puts its plan to legalize recreational marijuana sales next year.
Nelson also wants a say in the legalization process, as a federal-provincial task force tours the country to hear from public health, police and substance abuse experts.
For now, B.C. is the Wild West of pot production.
Communities that try to regulate quasi-medical dispensaries find their tickets and orders ignored as shops proliferate in a legal vacuum.
In Kamloops, there are at least two marijuana dispensaries operating.
Thus far, the two storefronts – which sell medicinal marijuana to those with a doctors prescription – have been left alone by the City of Kamloops and Kamloops RCMP while the federal Liberals proceed with plans to legalize pot.
In July, Kamloops council did back a proposed medical-marijuana production facility in a Dallas industrial park.
Dr. Richard Brownlee of KamCan Products had written to council, offering a tour of the facility and asking for a letter of support.
Last fall, council agreed to rezone the companys 8170 Dallas Drive property to permit the facility.
In July, council voted unanimously to send a letter stating its support for medical-marijuana production in Kamloops.
The letter avoided singling out any particular company, so council can avoid giving preferential treatment to a single business.
Langley fire officials determined last month that a recent house fire was caused by an explosion in a marijuana extraction lab using butane as a solvent.
The process is used to make honey oil and shatter, a crystal concentrate that is one of the most potent marijuana preparations.
Oils and concentrates are sold in some dispensaries and used in baked goods.
Nelson recently saw its eighth pot store open without a business licence as it considers regulations adopted in Kimberley and Vancouver.
Sooke has three dispensaries as the issue moves to smaller communities.
In the Okanagan, communities are taking a harder line. Penticton has cancelled the business licences of medical-marijuana shops, despite their arguments they are compassion clubs supplying people with legally recognized medical uses.
Vernon council voted down a proposal to develop its own bylaw regulating dispensaries, as Victoria and other communities are doing.
A staff report advised councillors that business licences have not been issued because storefront sales remain illegal in Canada.