Medical marijuana patients, caregivers and activists who spoke to City Council in public hearings over the last two weeks raised numerous concerns about the new regulations, which would also ban baked marijuana edibles and create a $30,000 licensing fee for stores that make a profit. An amendment to the rules means not-for-profit dispensaries will be charged only $1000.
Some councillors raised concerns about proximity rules that would see many of the current stores shut down and the rules against edibles, but none of them proposed any further amendments, instead voting for or against the rules the way they currently stand.
“It’s a historic move and a great first step,” Jamie Shaw of the BC Compassion Club Society and CAMCD, told the press at City Hall after the vote, but said she was “disappointed” councillors spoke about the problems with the rules but didn’t propose any amendments.
Shaw said she was also concerned about the ban on baked marijuana edibles but that “there may be ways around that.” An amendment to the originally proposed rules means shops will be permitted to sell tinctures and capsules, but not food like cookies and candy.
“There would be possibilities of maybe setting up a kitchen,” Shaw said, “and have some members bake for other members with cannabis they’ve purchased that isn’t actually related to the club.”
Mayor Gregor Robertson and Councillor Kerry Jang, who both supported the new measures, spoke to reporters at City Hall after the vote, stating that dispensaries who break the rules could face enforcement from police and the city.
Jang said the police would be responsible for going after clubs “in terms of the criminality” and “if they’re selling to kids.”
“But in regards to the bylaws just passed, we will enforce those bylaws if they are operating within 300 meters of a school and don’t have the proper licence, they will be closed,” Jang said.
Several Councillors mentioned the federal government’s lack of leadership on the issue of medical marijuana and said that passing the new rules is a “common sense” approach to dealing with the proliferation of federally-illegal marijuana stores.
City Manager Penny Ballem told the Globe and Mail dispensaries will not be permitted to allow customers to vaporize or smoke on site, and those that do could be shut down under smoking and vaporizing bylaws.
“What we know is the public-health people in this country and in other places in the world have determined that vaping has a real risk to people’s health,” she said.
Find out more about medical marijuana on Cannabis Culture.