No new pot shops in Okanagan Falls because 'everybody wants to try it'

The RDOS has made it more difficult to open a pot shop in Okanagan Falls by imposing a moratorium.
The RDOS has made it more difficult to open a pot shop in Okanagan Falls by imposing a moratorium.
Image Credit: Google Maps

Until the dangers of marijuana are explored further, regional politicians don't want to see any new pot shops Okanagan Falls.

“If people come in and say in Area D, 'we want to apply for a license' they can be told upfront and with good honesty… we’re not going to approve it,” Area D director Ron Obirek said at the Oct. 7 Regional District of the South Okanagan-Similkameen meeting.

He wants a moratorium on any new cannabis stores in the Okanagan Falls area until a review is done on weed stores. The moratorium works by having district staff send any applications they receive to the Liquor Control and Regulations Branch without any comments, thereby preventing applicants from getting approved for a licence.

Staff, however, recommended at the Oct. 7 meeting that directors do the opposite and not pursue a moratorium, even though two weeks earlier, staff recommended a moratorium be approved.

Chief administrative officer Bill Newell explained why the new recommendation is completely different.

“I’m going to suggest that we probably felt some duress to bring that forward,” Newell said. “The board really didn’t seem to want to address these applications. But looking further at it, I don’t think that meets the intent of the law.”

Obirek said he doesn't think the board put anybody under duress.

“I don’t think that this is improper legal process,” he said. “I think we have the authority to do a moratorium.”

READ MORE: Politicians trying to nip new Okanagan Falls pot shops in the bud

Newell explained the new policy is not air-tight, as rejected applicants have the right to appeal, and through the appeal process, applications are brought to the board for a vote.

”It would seem easier for ... the regional district, if the board just fulfilled applications referred from the ministry and decide what they want to do with it and then advise the ministry instead of coming up with a procedure to try and get around that.”

But most board members liked the idea of a moratorium, despite the loophole that anyone can still have their application considered by the board if they appeal.

“I know that the whole thing is recently legal, it’s new business, entrepreneurship, everybody wants to try it, everyone wants to get in the business of doing it,” said Area I director Subrina Monteith. “But Okanagan Falls is a very small community, and I think that before we do damage and expect more people to take on that same risk, I think we need to evaluate (a moratorium).”

Area F director Riley Gettens voted for the moratorium because it supports the vision of the Okanagan Falls Community Association, which gave a presentation to the board earlier in the day.

On the motion to impose a moratorium on pot shops in Okanagan Falls, there were seven votes against it among board of 19 directors.

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