B.C. solicitor general Mike Farnworth has said that the province will allow both public and private retail cannabis locations.
The private stores will be licensed by the provincial government.
Until this is all sorted out, the City of North Vancouver council has decided to impose an interim prohibition on ‘the sale and production of non-medical retail cannabis’. This will remain in place until the city ‘has an opportunity to prepare new regulations’.
The motion at the May 28 council meeting was introduced by B.C. NDP president Craig Keating in his capacity as a City of North Vancouver councillor.
It was seconded by his political ally, Coun. Linda Buchanan, who has announced that she is running for mayor in the October 20 election.
The interim ban was supported by five other members of council. Only Acting Mayor Rod Clark opposed Keating’s motion.
Mayor Darrell Mussatto was absent and therefore did not cast a vote. He’s not seeking reelection this October.
‘The benefit associated with not processing applications involving retail cannabis is that there would be time to engage with the public, to assess the cumulative effects of the changes being implemented by the Province, to research various approaches taken by other municipalities, and to develop policy and/or regulations,’ wrote two senior city staff members in a report to council.
The staff have also proposed new licensing definitions to separate sales from production with the following terms: ‘cannabis’, ‘cannabis production’, ‘cannabis sales’, and ‘cannabis—licensed medical production’.
‘Those changes will have the effect of clarifying and strengthening the delegation of authority to staff to establish terms and conditions for licences and to grant, suspend and refuse them for reasonable cause as recommended by the City’s lawyers,’ the report notes.
It also warns of ‘concerns that while policy development is underway, it is likely that businesses may push the cannabis retail issue and some will open up without approval’.
If this occurs, the report declares that ‘substantial Bylaw Enforcement resources may be necessary to address retail businesses opening without approval during the policy development phase’.
That, in turn, could result in city financial resources being allocated to obtain court injunctions to force the closure of illegal businesses.
According to Keating, there is nothing in the City of North Vancouver’s bylaws that prejudge whether there will be private or publicly own retail cannabis stores in the City of North Vancouver.
The public stores are staffed by members of the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union.
Between January 1, 2017 and the provincial election on May 9, 2017, the BCGEU contributed $261,153 to the B.C. NDP when Keating was (and still is) the party president.