EDITORIAL: Pot shop episode a complex affair

It’s pretty clear Langford Mayor Stew Young wants no part of a Victoria-style, free-for-all marijuana dispensary market in his city.

It’s pretty clear Langford Mayor Stew Young wants no part of a Victoria-style, free-for-all marijuana dispensary market in his city.

His stance and that of his council is clear, that until the federal government legislates changes to related passages in the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the City will consider storefront marijuana sales to be an illegal activity, as per the RCMP policy.

The City has a safety valve bylaw that would allow medical marijuana to be sold in a pharmacy, if there were such a rule on the federal books, which there isn’t yet.

Lorne Fletcher, Langford’s chief bylaw enforcement officer, said some people may not quite understand where the various levels of enforcement begin and end in this situation.

The municipality “doesn’t have the authority to wade into law enforcement issues,” he said. Where it can wield a legislative hammer is in the area of licensing, permits and inspections.

West Shore RCMP have been keeping a close watch on the operations of the store during its bold opening stints.

Finding some form of illegal distribution happening on the premises in their visits to Green Tree Dispensary has so far been a high-percentage action.

Meanwhile, the City is enforcing its regulations around requirement for permits for tenant improvements  – a stop work order was filed over that violation – and sign installation, as well as securing a business licence.

According to Fletcher, the pot supplier did not contact the City for any of those aspects of its operation and has been fined accordingly.

Given Green Tree’s history in Canada for reopening dispensaries that were shut down by various enforcement agencies, the City took the added step of obtaining a court injunction to prevent them from continuing to operate in contravention of City bylaws.

Regardless of how one feels about the availability of marijuana for medical purposes, or recreational for that matter, it’s hard to have any sympathy for a company that refuses to follow even the most simple rules of business.

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