The Nanaimo Cannabis Coalition spoke to city council Monday night, imploring them for support as the deadline to shutdown from RCMP looms closer.
Originally planing to peacefully protest outside the meeting, spokesperson Matthew O’Donnell was permitted to make a presentation where he asked council to do what they could to show they were behind the medicinal cannabis community in the city.
“We are also urgently asking council to consider asking the Nanaimo RCMP for a cooling off period while the federal government decides how they intend to legalize cannabis,” O’Donnell said at the meeting, the video of which is available on the city’s website.
“We urgently plead for Nanaimo City Council to stand with the thousands of medicinal cannabis users here in Nanaimo.”
O’Donnell said the community welcomes and wants regulation for marijuana, but, in the meantime, medical patients shouldn’t be arrested for accessing their medicine when, in potentially the next year, recreational cannabis will be widespread.
Mayor Bill McKay said he was impressed with the presentation from the coalition but didn’t commit to supporting the group during their troubles with the RCMP.
“You’ve acknowledged that the RCMP are doing their job, the politicians have now gone off to do theirs — they can’t do it fast enough as far as I’m concerned,” said McKay. “We’re all struggling in this thing together.”
When asked about the future of dispensaries in the city, O’Donnell said the businesses welcomed change.
“We want to be regulated, we want to be taxed – we want the city of Nanaimo to give us business licences,” O’Donnell said.
After the meeting O’Donnell said, despite the group’s best efforts the city did not commit to showing support for the group.
“We did open the dialogue to dispensaries with the city, I thought it was a really good start to that,” O’Donnell said “We haven’t given up hope yet in getting the city to help us in some form.”
Dispensaries were given seven days to shut down by the RCMP, on Nov. 12. When the deadline is up, officials say any operating businesses will have staff and customers arrested.
O’Donnell said the group is organizing a gathering on Wednesday to show solidarity agains the RCMP’s stance and urged members and supporters to send messages to officials voicing their opposition to the dispensary shutdowns.