No cannabis shops in Kelowna until next summer - InfoNews

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No cannabis shops in Kelowna until next summer

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September 19, 2018 - 3:30 PM

KELOWNA - It will be at least June of next year before you can stroll into a pot shop in Kelowna and buy some bud, some eight months after legalization of recreational cannabis in Canada.

“It will likely be June, July or August,” community planning manager Ryan Smith said, although he refused to speculate on where. “I would expect we will see six or eight applications go to council and public hearing before then. I wouldn’t necessarily say it will be downtown.

While Kamloops recently made the news as being the only municipality in B.C. that will have a licensed cannabis retail store open for Oct. 17, Kelowna is in no hurry to catch up.

“Kelowna residents like other Canadians have access to an online portal through the federal government as do people requiring medical cannabis,” Smith said. 

“Until then, there’s still the guy at the end of the street,” Smith said, conceding that black market distribution will continue well past legalization. “The experience in the U.S. has shown the black market will take time to wither away,” Smith added.

On Oct. 1, Kelowna opens up a two-month application window during which it will receive proposals for cannabis stores. Smith is expecting hundreds of applications and his department has identified over 900 possible commercial sites that a store could be located

Kelowna’s own bylaw says they must be at least 150 metres away from primary schools and 500 metres from high schools as well as each other. Areas that receive equal but overlapping applications will be chosen by lottery. Residential housing must be at least 60 metres away.

Only the most complete applications will be considered and Smith said staff plan to further triage the business and security plans of potential cannabis retailers, using internal experts to search for strengths and weaknesses and using them as benchmarks.

Only then, will staff forward the applications to council for initial consideration and possible advancement to public hearing, Smith added.

Don’t expect to be able to nip over to West Kelowna, Peachland or Lake Country for cannabis. Smith says he believes those jurisdictions are all behind Kelowna in adopting a cannabis retail bylaw.

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