The sale of pot for medical use will not be allowed in the City of Trail, at least for now.
The matter came before council Tuesday evening after two requests, one verbal, one written, were recently submitted to the city.
Even though what the media touts the “green rush,” or plenty of pot shops popping up around the province, including a handful in Nelson, current federal laws under Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR) allow medical marijuana users to purchase dried marijuana only by mail and only from Licensed Producers (LP).
In other words, LPs are the only legal means by which to obtain marijuana for medical purposes, according to a report by Trail Corporate Administrator Michelle McIsaac.
“At this time, the staff recommendation moving forward would be to continue to tell any people approaching the city that retail sale of medical marijuana, because it is not federally allowed, would be prohibited,” McIsaac explained to council.
Staff is not aware of any alterations to the current law, (but) should any change to the MMPR be enacted to allow for the retail sale, then the city would have to look closely at what regulations it wants to put in place, she clarified.
“We would want those to align with what federal regulations are, but to have a local flavour to ensure that our community is protected.”
Some of those protections would be to look at distances from schools or residences, McIsaac added.
“And (we) would want to have a very close look at how these operations should be permitted legally here in Trail if the federal regulations change to allow such.”
Coun. Kevin Jolly asked if municipalities in general, under their Community Charter or Local Government Act, could make their own law in relation to medical marijuana, that contravenes either the provincial or federal statutes.
Municipalities do have the power under community charters to regulate business and impose those regulations as councils’ see fit for respective communities, McIsaac replied.
“It’s implied that we would have all our business activities aligned with the federal regulations,” she explained. “But that said, we can have specific regulations imposed for business purposes.”
In the end, council agreed to prohibit the practise until such time federal laws allow for the retail sale of marijuana and the operation of medical marijuana retail storefronts, including compassion clubs and dispensaries.
Mayor Mike Martin says council’s decision is a forward-thinking response for two parties interested in opening a medical marijuana storefront, as well as others who may inquire.
“We thought we would just take a proactive step in defining our boundaries,” Martin told the Trail Times. “Whereas other communities may not have done that ahead of time, then were possibly caught up in something being put in their community and having to deal with it subsequently.”
After a second medical marijuana dispensary opened on Baker Street in Nelson, bringing the count to six, Greg Nesteroff from the Nelson Star, spoke with Kootenay-Columbia MP Wayne Stetski, who said it’s time to embrace the burgeoning industry.
“There are companies that are well down the road to being able to produce commercial quantities of medical-grade marijuana, and the whole thing seems to have gone into a stop mode until the Liberal government figures out how to move forward,” Stetski told the Star. “We’re stuck in Never Never Land here.”
Stetski thinks the Liberals are dragging their feet on moving forward with marijuana legalization.
“The federal government could have done that five months ago and they chose not to,” he said. “This is putting both entrepreneurs and the public into a state of confusion.”