B.C.’s local governments vote for power over pot shops despite federal stance

Local governments in British Columbia have declared they have the authority to licence medical marijuana dispensaries, defying the federal government's opposition to regulation of the illegal stores.

VANCOUVER — Local governments in British Columbia have declared they have the authority to licence medical marijuana dispensaries, defying the federal government’s opposition to regulation of the illegal stores.

Delegates at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention voted in favour of a resolution endorsing the position that they have the power to regulate pot dispensaries.

The resolution states that an ongoing court challenge of Ottawa’s medical marijuana laws has created uncertainty while pot shops proliferate and cause problems in B.C.

Vancouver Coun. Heather Deal said the vote sends a strong message to the federal government, which has not provided reasonable legal access to medical marijuana despite court rulings requiring them to do so.

“We have to do it because they’re not doing their job. They are continuing to be at odds with the federal courts,” she said after the vote.

“That leaves cities in the untenable position of not being able to deal with a product that is legal, yet opposed by the federal government. We have to use the controls and the tools that we have.”

Vancouver recently became the first city in Canada to approve regulation of its 100 marijuana shops, imposing a $30,000 licence fee and requiring the shops to locate 300 metres from schools, community centres and each other. Victoria is considering similar rules.

Municipalities in B.C. already have the power to regulate land use through bylaws, but the resolution marks a symbolic strike against the federal government’s handling of medical pot.

Corisa Bell, a Maple Ridge councillor and president of the Lower Mainland Local Government Association — which brought the resolution — told the crowd of local politicians that something needed to be done to curb the explosion of illegal stores.

“This rapid growth of unregulated businesses poses a significant risk to our youth, public health, and has an impact on our local economy,” she said.

“If, however, they are carefully managed and regulated, these businesses can play a role in improving the health conditions that affect numerous people.”

Selling pot over the counter is illegal in Canada regardless of whether it’s medical or recreational. Health Canada recently sent letters to 13 dispensaries warning of RCMP raids if they did not shut down, though Mounties have not yet acted on those threats.

Esquimalt Coun. Susan Low spoke against the resolution, saying it was the responsibility of the federal government and the courts to regulate medical marijuana, not that of local governments.

“Medical marijuana is a health service. That’s not part of local government’s jurisdiction. I’d be very uncomfortable trying to do that. I’m not qualified to do that,” she said after the vote.

“Right now, medical marijuana dispensaries are illegal, so in Esquimalt we won’t be issuing business licences for them. We simply can’t licence someone to do something that’s illegal.”

Just Posted

A representative for the office of Minister of Justice and Solicitor General Kaycee Madu says the new Red Deer drug treatment court is expected to be operational by the middle of 2022. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Red Deer drug treatment court expected to be up and running no later than mid-2022

The Government of Alberta expects the new Red Deer drug treatment court… Continue reading

Environment Canada says rain Tuesday evening will turn to snow. (File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Expect wet snow Tuesday night central Alberta

Heavy wet snow could accumlate with the potential for broken tree branches

FILE - In this Thursday, April 29, 2021 file photo, giant bucket-wheel excavators extract coal at the controversial Garzweiler surface coal mine near Jackerath, west Germany. A report by the International Energy Agency on Tuesday, May 18, 2021 says immediate action is needed to reshape the world’s energy sector in order to meet ambitious climate goals by 2050. This includes ending investments in new coal mines, oil and gas wells. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, File)
Energy agency: End new fossil fuel supply investments

IEA report sets out 400 steps to transform how energy is produced, transported and used

A man inspects the rubble of destroyed commercial building and Gaza health care clinic following an Israeli airstrike on the upper floors of a commercial building near the Health Ministry in Gaza City, on Monday, May 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
Strike from Gaza kills 2 as Israel topples 6-story building

Latest attack from Gaza on Tuesday hits packaging plant

The RCMP logo is seen outside Royal Canadian Mounted Police “E” Division Headquarters, in Surrey, B.C., on Friday April 13, 2018. A review by the national spy watchdog has found inconsistencies when it comes to federal efforts to ensure information sharing with foreign agencies does not result in torture. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Spy watchdog calls for changes to ensure information-sharing does not lead to torture

Differences in federal departments stances when dealing with the same foreign agency creates concern

Red Deer musician Curtis Phagoo is glad the Alberta government is investing $2 million to help the province’s live music industry, but he would have liked the criteria to be expanded, so the money could be used as relief to cover revenue shortfalls. (Contributed photo by Cory Michaud)
Red Deer musicians welcome $2M in grants to help live music, but would have preferred relief program

The money is for future projects and can’t be used for retroactive expenses

Sheffield United’s Daniel Jebbison celebrates after scoring his side’s opening goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Everton and Sheffield United at Goodison Park in Liverpool, England, Sunday, May 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Alex Pantling/Pool via AP
Canadian teenager Daniel Jebbison turns heads with Premier League goal

Jebbison, 17, is the youngest player in Premier League history to score on his first start in England’s top tier

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Nathalie Emmanuel, left, and Vin Diesel in a scene from “F9.” (Giles Keyte/Universal Pictures via AP)
The blockbuster movie makes a comeback this summer

Last year, summer earnings were $176 million, down 96% from 2019

FILE - In this Feb. 3, 2021, file photo, exile Tibetans use the Olympic Rings as a prop as they hold a street protest against the holding of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, in Dharmsala, India. Groups alleging human-rights abuses in China are calling for a full boycott of the Beijing Olympics, which is sure to ratchet up pressure on the International Olympic Committee, athletes, sponsors, and sports federations. A coalition of activists representing Uyghurs, Tibetans, residents of Hong Kong and others, issued a statement Monday, May 17, 2021 calling for the “full boycott,” eschewing lesser measures like “diplomatic boycotts" and negotiations with the IOC or China. (AP Photo/Ashwini Bhatia, File)
AP Exclusive: Full-blown boycott pushed for Beijing Olympics

AP Exclusive: Full-blown boycott pushed for Beijing Olympics

Canada's Eric Lamaze riding Fine Lady 5 during the CP International competition at the Spruce Meadows Masters in Calgary, Alta., Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019. Canada's most decorated show jumper has withdrawn from consideration for the Tokyo Olympics. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Canadian show jumper Eric Lamaze withdraws from Tokyo short list

Canadian show jumper Eric Lamaze withdraws from Tokyo short list

Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse questions a foul call during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Cleveland Cavaliers Monday, April 26, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. Nurse says it was the COVID-19 outbreak in March that spiked his team's chances for a post-season run.THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Chris O'Meara
Nurse faces a busy off-season, much busier if Canada qualifies for Tokyo Olympics

Nurse faces a busy off-season, much busier if Canada qualifies for Tokyo Olympics

Hockey Hall of Fame inductee Danielle Goyette speaks to reporters during a press conference in Toronto on Friday, November 10, 2017. Goyette has been named director of player development for the NHL's Toronto Maple Leafs and their American Hockey League affiliate. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov
Hayley Wickenheiser, Danielle Goyette together again on Toronto Maple Leafs staff

Hayley Wickenheiser, Danielle Goyette together again on Toronto Maple Leafs staff

Most Read