Despite some members of Qualicum Beach council being unsure on whether to allow a marijuana dispensary in town, council is ready to hear from the public on the topic.
Council voted Monday during its regular meeting for staff to give proper notification to residents about the marijuana dispensary. Council would then receive the comments from the public and vote on whether to issue a temporary use permit at the Sept. 11 meeting. Coun. Anne Skipsey was the only vote in opposition.
The proposed marijuana dispensary would be located at 675 Fir St.
Mayor Teunis Westbroek said he struggled with whether or not to allow a dispensary in town, but he said as far as a notification, the town should ask the community for its input.
Coun. Bill Luchtmeijer said there are a lot of people with severe ailments who spend money on opioid painkillers. Luchtmeijer said he supports the issue of a temporary licence.
“Like anything else, to make it convenient, people will make a good choice and make those changes,” he said.
According to Monday’s council packet, to allow a cannabis-related business requires either an amendment to the zoning or a temporary use permit which would expire after a set period of time, as opposed to a zoning amendment that is permanent. The permit would be three years, according to povincial legislation, and can only be renewed once.
“In the case of this medical marijuana dispensary, the temporary use process allowed the town to monitor the business for compliance, impact and compatibility with adjacent uses.”
Coun. Neil Horner highlighted a recent court case between the City of Parksville and WeeMedical Wellness Center, which was shut down by the city and RCMP multiple times.
“This court case showed that if the operation in question doesn’t follow our rules, we can shut them down and we have the court precedent to do so,” Horner said.
Luchtmeijer said he doesn’t want the town to end up in a situation like Parksville had with WeeMedical.
“The fringe element comes in and opens up pot shops and sells to anyone who walks in the door for any one of the multitude of reasons and they have to go after them with policing and courts,” Luchtmeijer said.
Skipsey said she is concerned about the location, which is 280 metres from the southwest corner of the high school.
“Even though it does appear to be inevitable, the retail sale of marijuana is still contrary to federal law,” she said.
The agenda states that although marijuana dispensaries are contrary to federal law, a number of B.C.municipalities have started issuing business licences for retail marijuana businesses. It also says staff has obtained legal advice that if a licence is issued, the town would not be liable.