The agenda for a public hearing on Jan. 4 includes a zoning bylaw amendment that would add “marijuana operation to the list of prohibited uses in all zones.”
The amendment has already passed a first and second reading, with Monday’s hearing allowing for feedback from the public before it is adopted by the town.
Duncan Planner Michelle Geneau wrote in an accompanying document that city staff had previously alerted council of medical cannabis dispensaries attempting to open in the town, prompting the city to initiate the bylaw changes.
Duncan director of corporate services Karen Robertson wrote in a staff report to city council that dispensaries are illegal and the bylaw change is aimed to assist police.
“No law exists for a person to go to any sort of premise (commercial or otherwise) to purchase marijuana even if they are an authorized user,” wrote Robertson. “Despite this, medical marijuana store front dispensaries are being established … leaving enforcement to the RCMP. This strains RCMP’s resources so they seek the cooperation of local governments in their enforcement efforts by asking that business license and zoning bylaws be established to reinforce the use as prohibited until such time that the federal law may change.”
Based on this feedback, council decided at a July 20 meeting to not approve business licenses for any dispensaries, later choosing to change bylaw definitions to outright ban the operations from town altogether.
The bylaw amendments specify marijuana operations as those “cultivating, growing, producing, packaging, storing, distributing, dispensing, trading or selling of cannabis (Marijuana) or its derivatives.”
Geneau wrote that if federal plans to legalize cannabis come to pass the city has the options to either consider applications for dispensaries on a case-by-case basis through zoning amendments or revise the entire zoning bylaw once again.
“Currently the city has no way of knowing when and what changes the federal government will make to marijuana laws, but this proposed Zoning Bylaw amendment would ensure that once the federal government introduces legislation to legalize store front medical marijuana dispensaries, Council can take a measured approach in considering appropriate regulations and locations for this type of business,” Geneau wrote in the report.
While the city has no dispensaries currently in operation, it is home to the annual Duncan Dabfest fundraiser.