Provincial pot plans may take some of the regulatory pressure off Victoria City Hall.

Province’s new pot strategy expected to help out Victoria

Licensing and enforcement of cannabis shops to move into government realm

The province’s newly announced approach to recreational cannabis sales will help municipalities like Victoria bring some order to a difficult and challenging situation, according to Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps.

On Monday, Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth confirmed plans for a mixed retail model for recreational cannabis, once the product has been formally legalized by the federal government. That legalization has been promised for June of 2018.

RELATED: B.C. government marijuana stores will compete with private sellers

Farnworth’s plans calls for the sale of marijuana to be done in shops dedicated to that purpose. The rules would restrict those shops from selling cannabis alongside any other products including food, cigarettes, lottery tickets or gas. The province has chosen not to include marijuana sales within public liquor stores.

The licensing of these retail outlets will lie solely with the provincial government, a move that will provide relief to municipalities like Victoria that are struggling to regulate existing pot dispensaries through a mixture of business licenses and zoning regulations.

“Honestly, this can’t come soon enough,” said Helps, speaking of the takeover of licensing by the province.

“It takes it out of our hands on a regulatory basis and turns over that enforcement to the province. It would be like trying to open a bar without a provincial license to do so – the province would shut you down pretty quickly.”

That’s not to say that the municipality will relinquish all control over where cannabis shops will operate.

The B.C. Private Retail Guide published by the province reads, “For the Province to issue a licence, applicants must have the support of the local government in the community where the proposed store would be located.”

“We would still have the right to restrict the zoning of the shops to make sure they’re not too close to a school – restrictions like that,” Helps said. “As I understand it, without our approval they wouldn’t get a license and if they operate without a license, the province steps in to enforce the law.”

Within Victoria, the existing onus on civic enforcement has led to recent court challenges and some inconsistencies in regulations.

In one case last week, the City was granted a court injunction that led to the shuttering of the Green Dragon Medicinal Society Dispensary on Herald Street, an operation that was found to be located closer to a school than allowed by City regulations. Another marijuana dispensary, immediately next door to the Green Dragon location, continued to operate in lieu of another injunction being issued for that location.

Even the fines issued by Victoria bylaw officers to non-compliant pot shops have been challenged at every turn, requiring the City to face court appeals of the fines.

“(With new provincial regulations) people will have to realize that this is a serious industry. By taking the enforcement out of our hands, the province will help to demonstrate that,” said Helps.

editor@vicnews.com

Just Posted

Victoria-bound plane slides off icy Edmonton runway

Crew, passengers had to disembark via bridge stairs

VIDEO: Hundreds gather in Victoria as part of global Women’s March for equality

‘End Violence Against Women’ march theme for 2019

Victoria’s oldest pipes to be replaced this year

The pipes along Cook Street were installed in 1891 and are made of bricks

Esquimalt needs urgent health care facility, mayor says

A severe doctor shortage is leaving Esquimalt residents scrambling for health care

Almost four of 10 Canadians have unlimited internet data at home

Fifty-four per cent say they telecommute at least sometimes

WATCH: Medieval fighters train in Colwood

Fighters are gearing up for world championships in medieval combat

Want to avoid the speculation tax on your vacant home? Rent it out, Horgan says

Premier John Horgan and Sheila Malcolmson say speculation and vacancy tax addresses homelessness

CONSUMER REPORT: What to buy each month in 2019 to save money

Resolve to buy all of the things you want and need, but pay less money for them

UPDATE: B.C. woman and boy, 6, found safe, RCMP confirm

Roseanne Supernault says both she and her six-year-old nephew are fine and she has contacted police

PHOTOS: Women’s Marches take to the streets across B.C. and beyond

Women and allies marched worldwide protesting violence against women, calling for equality

Anxiety in Alaska as endless aftershocks rattle residents

Seismologists expect the temblors to continue for months, although the frequency has lessened

Women’s March returns across the U.S. amid shutdown and controversy

The original march in 2017, the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, drew hundreds of thousands of people

Federal Liberals announce former B.C. MLA as new candidate in byelection

Richard Lee will face off against federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh

Most Read