Metro Vancouver mayors mull over marijuana regulations

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      Lower Mainland mayors are keeping a close eye on Vancouver’s plan to regulate the over-the-counter sale of medicinal marijuana.

      Burnaby mayor Derek Corrigan told the Straight that in his city, the RCMP has been quick to act against anybody who’s tried to open a storefront dispensary. He said councillors are monitoring the situation in Vancouver, noting that attitudes are changing.

      “When Washington and Colorado legalized marijuana, I think the dam was broken,” he explained. “There no longer is respect for laws against marijuana. That means there has to be a form of regulation.”

      On the phone from Richmond, Mayor Malcolm Brodie said dispen­saries have yet to become an issue there. “But what happens in one city can happen in the next,” he added. “So it is a matter of concern.”

      Asked for his personal opinion on Vancouver’s proposed regulatory framework (which includes a new category of business licence, revised bylaws, and zoning amendments all specifically designed for the sale of marijuana), Brodie was critical of Health Canada’s medicinal marijuana system, which requires patients to access cannabis via mail order.

      “The question that is being raised in Vancouver is a logical extension of what they’ve authorized,” he said. "There are a number of issues with the federal program,."

      Surrey mayor Linda Hepner was out of town. Kim Marosevich, bylaw business operations manager, told the Straight there are no dispen­saries in Surrey and the city intends to keep it that way.

      In the City of North Vancouver, Mayor Darrell Mussatto revealed that council received a report on “the regulation of medical marijuana” at a May 1 session that was closed to the public. He declined to provide details but noted that a second in-camera meeting is scheduled for next week.

      Mussatto reported that one dispensary has opened in North Vancouver. Asked about medicinal cannabis, he suggested the conversation society should be having is one about recreational marijuana. “I think the time has come,” Mussatto argued.

      New Westminster Mayor Jonathan Coté similarly raised the examples of Washington State and Colorado. “The public’s perception of this issue is moving along and I think it’s time for us to recognize that,” Coté said. He however emphasized it should be the federal and provincial governments taking the lead instead of municipalities.

      Squamish Mayor Patricia Heintzman said one dispensary is operating in her district, so far without attracting much attention. “At this point, it’s not a high priority for the police,” she said. “It’s not a huge issue here in Squamish.”

      On May 7, Victoria city council is scheduled to debate various options for how best to deal with an increase in the number of marijuana-related businesses in the province’s capital. Staff have recommended a crackdown, but Mayor Lisa Helps told the Straight another option councillors will consider is to draft new regulations similar to what Vancouver has proposed.

      Expressing her personal opinion, Helps described Vancouver’s plan as a “good idea”.

      “If it is a medical issue, the federal minister of health needs to find a better process than mail order,” she said. “That is obviously not working.”

      Additional mayors declined requests for interviews.

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      Ronald McChronald

      May 6, 2015 at 5:12pm

      Regulations are a good start to see if marijuana companies "dispensaries" are taking the required steps to run a solid and successful business rather then just riding the green rush. The past few yeas have been literally easy as drinking a glass of water to become successful. But, who are the true successors going to be once everyone has to abide by regulations or have to pay up the nose for fines? I believe it will be the one's who can follow rules and know the difference between right and wrong, scrupulous and unscrupulous don't you?

      Ronald McChronald

      Doug Pederson AKA SpectateSwamp

      May 9, 2015 at 10:09am

      Don't think for a second think that PotHeads will support the Johnny come latelies

      To the victor go the spoils
      This should apply to the Marijuana revolution as well.

      No licenses should go to the anti-pot people that were against this victory.

      Only those PotHeroes who were incarcerated, lost jobs or assets etc etc etc... should get our support $$$ Period. We are a cohesive group (numbering in the 100's of MILLIONS) and when we boycott the pretenders shops, they will soon be out of business.

      I read about one investor that owned over 60 licenses. Boo and boycott.

      Expensive pot licenses will be worthless real fast.