Pot shop sprouts in Parksville

A new medical marijuana dispensary has opened its doors in downtown Parksville, and Mayor Marc Lefebvre wasted no time beating around the weeds in sharing his opinion on the development.

“When I was elected mayor I was elected to uphold the law, and I swore that I would uphold the law,” Lefebvre told councillors during Monday’s regular meeting in council chambers. “The law in Canada still states that this kind of operation is illegal and I’m not interested in having an illegal operation in my city.

“I would like to see this place closed down.”

The mayor’s remarks came as city staff submitted a report noting the presence of the unlicenced shop, WeeMedical, on Hirst Avenue. That report offered council several options to respond to the dispensary, while also addressing the likelihood of the federal government legalizing the direct sale of medical marijuana in the future.

“We know the direction (the federal government) is going in; it’s coming,” Coun. Mary Beil said of marijuana legalization. “We’re going to be caught with this; at some point it’s going to be approved and when it is, it’s going to be the wild, wild west out there. We’ll have nothing in place.”

Parksville currently has a bylaw allowing licenced, medical marijuana production in either the industrial area south of the city, or in its outer agricultural zones. The sale of any marijuana is not allowed anywhere, and no medical pot operations of any kind have been approved for the downtown core.

“We do have (enforcement) steps, and we have taken them already,” said Keeva Kehler, director of administrative services. “A bylaw officer was sent to the site, we have issued a written warning telling them they’re in contravention of our regulations; they don’t have a sign permit; and the building inspector is not 100 per cent sure they’re in compliance with zoning.”

WeeMedical has two locations in Nanaimo and one in Port Alberni. The Port Alberni location has been licensed by that city, though current medical marijuana laws are a patchwork from one municipality to another.

Council approved a pair of motions related to the issue. One requests the RCMP close down the exisiting shop. The other directed city staff to begin developing a regulatory regime anticipating the eventual legalization of marijuana.

“The federal government has left us in limbo, and unfortunately because of that we’ve had to deal with these illegal pot shops,” councillor Sue Powell said. “We need to get ahead of this; a knee-jerk shutdown is not going to work.”

Parksville has been down this road before. Two years ago, Phoenix Pain Management Society opened a medical pot dispensary in downtown Parksville. It was shut down after being raided by RCMP in April of 2015.

Council approved unanimously a motion directing staff “go beyond business licence enforcement to close this operation, and further request RCMP enforce the law prohibiting the sale of marijuana in this location.”

Council then voted to direct staff to craft a report and present to council options for a regulatory regime for for both medical and recreational marijuana.

Prior to that vote, councillors Kirk Oates and Kim Burden introduced an amendment removing recreational marijuana from that framework.

“It gives the illusion that the people of Parksville support a recreational marijuana dispensary and recreational marijuana activities, and I don’t for a minute believe the majority of people in Parksville support that,” said Oates.

“It doesn’t matter whether (the government) makes it illegal. We have the ability to say, ‘We don’t want that business in our town.’”

The amendment failed, with Oates and Burden casting the only votes in favour.

 

by  J R Rardon – Parksville Qualicum Beach News

– Parksville posted