KELOWNA - Mayor Colin Basran and city councillors had many questions and suggestions about Kelowna’s response to a provincial survey on looming marijuana legalization.
If they shared common ground, it was the demand for a slice of the taxation pie to pay for what most expect will be increased regulation and enforcement.
“I think we should be relaying the message as loud and as often as possible in regards to revenue sharing. Revenue sharing is a must,” Basran said.
Community planning manager Ryan Smith told council the province already likely has an idea of the legislation it will introduce but will consider the responses from the survey as they fine-tune regulations.
The survey is based on the Cannabis Legalization and Regulation discussion paper released by the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General. The paper outlines a range of regulatory options and distribution models which are supposed to be in place by July 1, 2018.
The discussion paper in turn is based on the federal government's guidelines, which includes a minimum age of 18 with personal possession of no more than 30 grams, the ability to grow four plants at home and the right to share up to 30 grams with another person.
Smith told council staff generally agree with a model of distribution similar to the retail sales of alcohol, as long as the city can regulate the location of retail outlets through zoning bylaws and business licensing.
Some councillors had concerns about people growing four plants inside their homes as well as the existence of licensed Health Canada growers who group prescription licenses together and grow large-scale crops in residential homes.
Smith said the practice is legal by Health Canada standards and the city does not currently have a way to regulate them. He said the city might want to avoid the enforcement of indoor growing rules by restricting it to outdoor only.
Beyond that councillors held diverse views on the way the soon-to-be-legalized drug should be distributed and where that will take place.
Coun. Luke Stack was concerned about the lack of education for young people about the dangers of the drug.
Coun. Tracy Gray, who used to run a retail wine business, said she hoped distribution at the retail level was kept out of government run stores, a model she described as inefficient and costly.
Coun. Maxine Dehart said she knows of realtors with concerns about the stigma associated with indoor growing at its affect on the value of real estate.
Coun. Ryan Donn asked about edible marijuana products and where they fit into the retail distribution model but Smith said the current framework only considers dried marijuana and some derivatives.
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