BC: Victoria Mayor Firm – New Rules Don’t Allow Pot Use At Shops

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Victoria’s new marijuana retailing regulations coming into effect this month do not allow people to consume marijuana on site, Mayor Lisa Helps is stressing.

“To be very clear, these bylaws are meant to make sure that people have access to their medicine. They are not meant to enable recreational consumption,” Helps said.

“We expect that there will not be consumption of cannabis at any of the places that are going to be open as a result of this new licensing regime.”

Helps’s comments came after a marathon public hearing in which councillors were praised for their approach to marijuana retail operations, but at the same time were urged to allow places where people can consume pot and to not force retailers to close by 8 p.m.

Ashley Abraham, owner of the Green Ceiling vapour lounge, said in two years of working at a “compassion club,” she saw reasons to allow on-site consumption by medicinal users who are unable to do so at home due to factors such as rental agreements or having spouses and children in the home.

One speaker said that as a teenager, he used to be asked on Victoria streets if he wanted to buy pot. With the advent of dispensaries, that doesn’t happen anymore, he said.

“Dispensaries have cleaned up the dealers on the street, so why not let the lounges clean up the users on the street while at the same time creating jobs and contributing taxes?” he asked.

Helps said Victoria is making changes to zoning and business licensing bylaws to accommodate the sale of medical marijuana, not recreational marijuana, and it troubled her that some of the speakers at the hearing made comparisons with the sale of liquor.

Councillors approved the bylaws, but several said they did not rule out future amendments that could allow consumption of marijuana on sites operated by non-profit organizations.

Coun. Ben Isitt said the new regulations respond to generally held public views toward marijuana use.

“I think there’s particularly compelling arguments in the non-profit societies for allowing people to consume the substance,” Isitt said. “I think that argument’s a bit weaker in the for-profit establishments, where I personally don’t see a pressing need to allow people to consume the product.”

Coun. Marianne Alto said she was “profoundly troubled by the complexities of the prohibition around on-site use.” She said it’s illogical that the city is spending an enormous time and effort trying to facilitate supervised consumption sites for other illegal drugs while prohibiting use of cannabis.

“I think that managing on-site consumption will help us manage public use and will also help us manage unwilling exposure.”

Council approved changes that will force all marijuana retailers to apply for rezoning to come into compliance.

By the end of the month, Victoria’s burgeoning marijuana retail sector will have to take steps to meet new business licensing regulations.

Requirements include: No marijuana use or other business (including ATMs) on site, no one under 19 on premises, posting of health and safety warnings, and special ventilation. A maximum of two exterior signs would be allowed, restricted to letters and numbers with no images. Sites have to close between 8 p.m. and 7 a.m., have video surveillance and security plans and conduct criminal record checks of employees.

News Moderator: Katelyn Baker
Full Article: Victoria Mayor Firm – New Rules Don’t Allow Pot Use At Shops
Author: Bill Cleverley
Contact: 250-380-5211
Photo Credit: None Found
Website: Times Colonist