City responsible for retail regulations
By Colten Kamlade, Staff Reporter
New Westminster, like many other cities in BC, is working to put in place the necessary bylaws to regulate the sale and use of cannabis as the Trudeau government strives to have recreational use of cannabis legalized by July.
A regulatory framework recently announced by BC’s NDP government already outlines many of the cannabis restrictions that will be enforced. Despite the provincial regulations, New Westminster still has many decisions to make as to how they will proceed. Some questions regarding cannabis sales, non-medical cannabis production facilities, business licensing regulating, public consumption, and personal cultivation are yet to be answered.
In response to this, the City of New Westminster is planning to hold consultations so the public can have their say in how cannabis is regulated in their city.
Jonathan Coté, mayor of New Westminster, outlined the kind of responsibilities the city was being given and the kind of solutions that are being considered.
“The main responsibility being delegated to municipalities when it comes to cannabis legalization is how retail will be regulated,” he said in an email interview with the Other Press. “At this point, it looks like the City will be proposing regulating cannabis retail in a very similar fashion that the City regulates private liquor stores.”
The exact dates of the public consultation have yet to be finalized, according to Coté.
“The City is planning on conducting public engagement on this topic in the spring and I believe a town hall meeting is being scheduled in May,” he said.
When asked for further details about the kind of public engagement the city was planning on conducting, Coté did not elaborate.
The federal government planned to legalize cannabis by July of this year, but their cannabis legislation is currently tied up in the senate chamber. It’s unclear whether the Liberal government will meet their July legalization deadline.
According to the Province of British Columbia website, the minimum age for cannabis possession in BC will be 19, as is consistent with tobacco and alcohol laws. Adults will be able to carry a maximum of 30 grams of non-medical marijuana in public, and they will be able to use the substance in most of the same areas as tobacco smokers. Cannabis use, however, will be prohibited in areas that children frequent, such as parks, playgrounds, and community beaches. Those who are interested in cultivating cannabis for themselves will be allowed to grow up to four plants.
To ensure that businesses selling cannabis don’t pop up in the city before the drug is officially legalized, New Westminster has approved a zoning amendment bylaw to clarify that the drug is currently illegal to sell.