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BC: Victoria Council Drafting Rules For Marijuana Shops

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Katelyn Baker

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Victoria marijuana dispensaries operating in defiance of new city regulations could face fines of up to $1,000 a day under proposals that will be before councillors next week.

But getting the necessary regulations and zoning bylaws in place will be complicated, meaning it will likely be the new year before the city sees its first licensed marijuana shop, Mayor Lisa Helps said Friday.

"It's very complex and that's why it's taken a little while," Helps said.

"But people have asked for regulation. We're bringing in regulation. The people who are serious business people will comply with it and the people who won't, will be fined."

City staff are recommending regulations to bring order to what has been open season for the storefront sale of marijuana.

A framework would allow the city to consider permitting marijuana-related businesses on a site-by-site basis.

Regulations would specify requirements such as no marijuana use or other business on site, no one under 19 on the premises and the posting of health and safety warnings. Sites would have to be closed between 8 p.m. and 7 a.m., have security plans and conduct criminal-record checks of employees.

Once those regulations are in place - anticipated in early September - marijuana retailers would be able to begin a rezoning process.

Under the new zoning, policy marijuana retailers would not be allowed to locate within 200 metres of each other or a school. While city councillors had suggested putting a 200-metre buffer around licensed daycares as well, city staff say that might be too restrictive, and Helps agrees.

The expectation is that the new regulatory regime will drastically reduce the number of dispensaries that will eventually be allowed to operate. Helps recommends those operators who want to stay in business had better get their ducks in a row.

"If I were a serious dispensary operator right now, I would have an architect. I would have an engineer. I would be anticipating some of the things that the planning staff are going to be looking for," Helps said.

"People who are serious will be organizing now and getting ready to make application. ... There will be a time period when those applications go through a rezoning process and then we will crack down on people who are not intending to comply."

Staff are recommending, on a cost-recovery basis, a $7,500 rezoning fee and $5,000 business licence fee.

The past two years have seen an explosion in the number of marijuana-related businesses. An estimated 35 businesses are selling marijuana compared with only four in April 2014.

Bringing regulation to the business of selling marijuana will require additional staff, both for processing applications and enforcement of new rules, staff say. Additional costs are proposed to be recovered through fees.

News Moderator: Katelyn Baker 420 MAGAZINE ®
Full Article: Victoria Council Drafting Rules For Marijuana Shops
Author: Bill Cleverley
Contact: 250-380-5211
Photo Credit: Daren Stone
Website: Times Colonist