There a lot of issues for local government to weed through before recreational use of marijuana becomes legal in Canada later this year.
Even when non-medical pot use is legalized, municipalities can still outright ban retail sales. However, within the City of Trail, retail sales of non-medical cannabis (NMC) will be permitted – with regulations – once legislation is in place.
So this week, Trail council tackled the business end of things.
Specifically, the panel reviewed a detailed report by Corporate Administrator Michelle McIsaac, then addressed how the city will handle business licence applications for retailers of non-medical cannabis (NMC) once the use is legal.
“The one thing I realized,” Mayor Mike Martin began. “Is this train is on the tracks, it’s rolling, and it’s coming right through this community. So we can’t ignore that fact.”
The city’s plan is proactive, and requires a step-by-step process that will include a broad public hearing.
First, it begins with a mechanism that all municipalities have in place – zoning bylaws and the regulations or restrictions within those bylaws – as well as the ability to amend those rules.
During the Monday governance meeting, council agreed to amend C1, C2, C4 and C6, zones to include non-medical retail sales.
Those commercial areas are located in the Gulch, downtown, East Trail and Waneta Plaza. For a more detailed look, the map is attached to McIsaac’s full report on the city’s website.
“The province will not be regulating the location of retail stores or the number allowed in each community,” McIsaac pointed out. “However, local government approval of any application will be a mandatory prerequisite to the issuance of a provincial retail licence.”
In other words, even if the zoning permits the retail sale of non-medical pot in a Trail location, council will consider each application on a case-by-case basis, much like primary liquor applications currently are.
Before council can enact the zoning changes, a public hearing will be held in chambers, he added.
“Any member of the public can attend the hearing and make representations for council to consider.”
As far as smoking pot in public, the city’s bylaw already defines marijuana smoke in terms of the limitations.
“From what I’ve learned through our solicitor, it is expected that the provincial regulations will restrict public use similarly to that of tobacco,” noted McIsaac. “As well as in public areas where children may be present, and from use in vehicles.
“The provincial legislation hasn’t yet been introduced so we are waiting on that.”
The city’s Smoking Bylaw, adopted in 2016, prohibits smoking (including both tobacco and marijuana) in city parks, at or within six metres of recreational facilities, and at outdoor special events.