Kelowna should keep a light touch on legal cannabis, staff recommend - InfoNews

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Kelowna should keep a light touch on legal cannabis, staff recommend

In this Saturday, Aug. 13, 2016 file photo, marijuana plant awaits judging in the Oregon Cannabis Growers' Fair marijuana plant competition in Salem, Ore.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Gillian Flaccus
April 09, 2018 - 5:30 PM

KELOWNA - With cannabis legalization looming, Kelowna councillors had lots of thoughts on how and where the drug will be distributed and consumed in the city.

“I’m not opposed to grouping them in little enclaves like craft breweries,” Coun. Luke Stack said. “You go to the toking district.”

Councillors heard an update from community planning manager Ryan Smith who said staff were recommending the city mostly stay on track with provincial recommendations.

Smith said the city could largely control the location of private cannabis stores through land use regulations and business licensing similar to how it now controls private liquor stores.

Would-be pot shop entrepreneurs have been flooding the planning department with requests for information about every aspect from large scale industrial production to retail stores, Smith added.

The city already has several large-scale cannabis producers operating on industrial land in Kelowna, councillors heard.

Staff are recommending a light touch on home production, which is to allow four plants per household.

Smith told council staff don’t think it’s worth the trouble to try and license people growing small numbers of plants in their own homes but did suggest for security reasons, they be kept to out of sight in back yards and garages.

Coun. Charlie Hodge questioned why that should matter, once the drug is legal and also asked why cannabis stores might be kept off Bernard Avenue, as the staff report suggested.

Smith told councillors the recommendation for any kind of “exclusion zone” is just a possibility for council to consider, not a hard recommendation.

Smith also told councillors the business licensing fees would reflect the cost of enforcement, simllar to liquor stores and would not be dependent on provincial revenue sharing.

Some concerns, such as where the drug can be publicly consumed, are better left until after legalization and will be covered by indoor and outdoor smoking regulations already in place, he added.

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