The city of Belleville has been preparing for federal legalization efforts from the government.

An exhausting debate was held on Monday where the planning advisory committee of Belleville showed support for amending a zoning bylaw which will include language specifically aimed at dealing with cannabis dispensaries and production facilities.

This amendment would give the city some say into where any potential cannabis businesses could be located, but the amendment will only come into effect if the council agrees on it in the future.

A few members of the committee did agree that amending the zoning bylaw of the city was needed, since the laws concerning cannabis are on the verge of changing. The Liberal government made the campaign promise to legalize and regulate cannabis, and the city’s move is in anticipation of this.

Should the amendment that this committee is recommending gain endorsement by the council, people trying to open a cannabis-centered business would have to go through the zoning process properly.

This amendment states that a “Medical Marihuana Production Facility shall mean premises used for growing, producing, testing, destroying, storing or distribution of medical marihuana or cannabis authorized by license issued by Health Canada.”

It provides a definition, a “Marihuana Dispensary shall mean a business selling or dispensing marihuana or cannabis products as the primary activity of the business.”

David Joyce, a committee member, wanted to make sure that the vote to support this bylaw amendment is not exactly an endorsement of cannabis use.

“I’m not supporting the concept, I don’t agree with it. But this helps us a little bit,” he said.

The director of engineering and development for Belleville, Rod Bovay, said that without this amendment the city wouldn’t have control over where cannabis businesses could be located. They would have to rely on the federal government to enforce any specific rules without the amendment.

Some members of the committee were unsure whether they should proceed with the amendment since there is still no official federal legislation concerning cannabis legalization yet.

Bovay said that it’s not a bad idea to for the city to prepare for oncoming federal legislation, since the process of amending bylaws on the municipal level can take several months.

“If this resolution is supported, staff have the ability to control quantity and location,” Bovay said.