The District of Highlands has come up with new regulations for the sale and production of pot.
During a council meeting earlier this week, mayor and councillors gave first and second reading to a draft bylaw that would automatically prohibit cannabis production, sales and medical cannabis production throughout the municipality, unless a rezoning application is submitted and approved.
“It’s the most prudent and flexible for the municipality at this point,” Mayor Ken Williams said.
“We’re waiting on the province to come to their final laws. It’s a complex initiative. It requires a co-ordinated, cohesive response from all orders of government.”
Last month the province announced the age limit for buying recreational marijuana in B.C. will be 19, and the province’s Liquor Distribution Branch will control wholesale distribution of cannabis products for sale. Retail sales will be limited to a maximum 30 grams, which is the possession limit for adults in any public place.
It also established a new impaired driving regulation, giving police authority to impose a 90-day driving suspension for drug-impaired driving.
In April, the Capital Regional District amended its clean air bylaw to prohibit people from smoking cannabis or vaping in any public place, building or structure, in any area where food and drinks are served, within seven metres of any door, window air intake, bus stop, or at any athletic parks, fields or playgrounds.
Locally, municipalities will continue to have authority over public safety, land use and business licensing.
While the Highlands has had discussions in the past about the use of medical marijuana, this is the first bylaw related to the recreational use of cannabis.
The District’s concern is that a marijuana-related business could set up shop before provincial legislation is enacted, and would be considered “non-conforming” and therefore would be allowed to continue without District approval.
“Say in an urban centre if a municipality didn’t have a zoning bylaw someone, on the basis of the federal law, could set up shop and would be non-conforming since there are no laws,” Williams said.
“It [the bylaw] gives everyone time and breathing room to get it right.”
The bylaw is consistent with bylaws that other municipalities around the region, such as Victoria, have passed.
The District will host a public hearing on the regulations, where residents can give input on the bylaw on Monday, June 4.
– With files from Tom Fletcher