Earlier this week Nelson City Council passed the first reading of a new bylaw amendment that specifically makes any use of land in the city for cannabis operations illegal.

The new bylaws will be amended to include a new definition of “Marijuana Operation” as any business “cultivating, growing, producing, packaging, storing, distributing, dispensing, advertising, trading or selling of cannabis (Marijuana) or its derivatives” and “Marijuana Operation” will then be added to The City of Nelson Zoning Bylaw under prohibited use.

“There are currently seven marijuana dispensaries in the City of Nelson – three of them are located in the Downtown core (Baker St., Vernon St. and Victoria St),” read the approved motion. “Despite the fact that several of these storefront operations have opened in recent months, they are operating contrary to criminal law – they are illegal.”

City officials said that the bylaw amendments will provide clarity and facilitate the city’s enforcement efforts against dispensaries in the future.

“[The changes] would also ensure that any new marijuana storefronts that open after the amendments have been adopted would be non-conforming on the basis of their use and they would not receive any protection as legally non-conforming uses,” read the agenda item.

Mayor Deb Kozak said the bylaw is the first step in determining how and where dispensaries will operate and will allow the city to better enforce its own rules.

Last month, at a meeting of The Union of BC Municipalities, Nelson put forward a motion asking for cities to be included in any negotiations around legalization — calling on the federal government to consult and coordinate with provincial and local governments regarding decriminalization and regulation of cannabis.