It’s only an hour or so drive from Nanaimo, but the city of Port Alberni’s approach to cannabis dispensaries make it seem worlds apart.

Last week Port Alberni’s city council decided to follow the ‘regulate and license’ route, much like most municipalities in British Columbia.

“Other towns have had marijuana dispensaries open up and they’re getting themselves way behind the eight ball trying to catch up,” said Councillor Jack McLeman.

Councillor Chris Alemany also spoke up in support of the municipal government taking action.

“It’s clear that the legislation federally has not caught up with society and we’re faced to deal with that mess.” Alemany said, adding he believes regulation is need for cannabis being sold medicinally or recreationally.

The move by city council means the city’s only cannabis dispensary, WeeMedical, can stay open.

Owner Justin Liu had received a ‘cease and desist’ letter from the RCMP in late October, and had planned to shut it down on November 9th, but will now remain in business.

At a previous council meeting, Trevor Bertrand from the Port Alberni Cannabis Club argued that WeeMedical should be shut down.

“The storefront model doesn’t exist and is illegal,” Bertrand said. “They are basically storefront drug dealers.”

Bertrand has the support of Port Alberni Mayor Mike Ruttan, who created some controversy by calling WeeMedical’s landlord, giving warning the dispensary is not welcome.

Council voted 5-2 in favour of zoning and regulating cannabis dispensaries and will bring recommendations to the Nov. 23rd meeting.