Public hearing, the date is set; October 26th, 6:30pm, The Great Canadian Canna Mall will have an opportunity to present their application for a rezoning to the Mayor and City Council of Victoria. Regardless of what it is, anyone who wishes to voice an opinion will have an opportunity, as is our right.

If you cannot make it in person, click here for the contact info for Victoria’s Mayor and City Council.

What this rezoning application process is all about

There is confusion surrounding the City of Victoria, their approach to dispensaries, and what a rezoning means for a cannabis business. Here are some facts:

Rezoning for a Cannabis Business strictly relates to land use. I repeat. Rezoning is and can only be about the use of the land; it cannot take into consideration who will operate there. The practices, merits, history or operations of the company applying on behalf of the land is considered when that business applies for a license and you can’t have one without the other.  Rezoning simply comes first. Everyone gets to apply so that the City can collect the $5000 fee…

A great example to stress this fact would be the nice chunk of cash the City of Victoria scored when they began this process officially in December 2016. Every business in operation before July 28, 2016 had to apply for that year and pay the application fee; three weeks later, every cannabis business in Victoria had to pay an additional fee for 2017…$10,000 total!

I went to a community drop-in hosted by the Mayor in October, 2016. I personally asked Mayor Lisa Helps if the City would demand an additional annual fee for 2016 if regulations were introduced late in the year.  She looked at me quite genuinely and said “That’s not something I can answer for certain right now but I really can’t see them doing something like that”. The annual fee for cannabis businesses was worded differently when the public agenda items were recorded; I know because when everyone got their bill, I looked it up. Breathing fire, I complained to the City Council trying to explain that this approach really only benefits the clubs that price gouge and punishes the patients over profits, compassion clubs. In the coming weeks, I watched a few places shut down because they couldn’t afford to pay.

How this affects the staff

The Great Canadian Canna Mall employs over 25 people who are all really happy to be there. Some of these staff have suffered from some serious injuries and health problems; The relaxed environment and health aware nature surrounding the cannabis industry makes it a perfect place for someone on disability to reintroduce themselves into the workplace; the Canna Mall is no exception but they are at risk.

How this affects the neighbourhood

In the beginning, there was a lot of resistance but to someone who is not comfortable with pot and has only been misinformed, the sound of a Great Canadian Canna Mall is reefer madness. The reality is that real madness is the opiate crisis we are all in and cannabis has been proven to be an antidote for some during this fentanyl epidemic, but still here we are.

The 200 meter rule was amended to 400 meters and The Canna Mall is being told they will be too close to an already licensed cannabis dispensary, a total of 350 meters away. There is a methadone clinic within the vicinity as well, 280 meters from the Canna Mall. The fact is that all cannabis businesses within the area provide a non-lethal, life saving alternative for the people who go to that clinic and the positive effects that has had in the community has not been recorded or recognized. But, I can tell you about the improvements in North Park from first hand experience. I know because like a lot of young women prescribed non-recreational opiates, both my perscription and I were transferred to that clinic. I used to see my methadone doctor there but not anymore or ever again. Now, I go to the Canna Mall.

How this affects the people who go there

When you are sick, you don’t want to eat. If you getting medicine depends on you eating, you can have a very serious problem to the point where variety can mean life or death. The other thing sick people hate doing is moving because usually, it causes discomfort. These concepts makes sense to most people. If you are ill, depend on variety but can’t drive or walk 400 meters minimum every time your dispensary sells out of gluten free options, The Canna Mall is your best option. Unfortunately, this convenient factor is the reason they are at risk of being denied.

What you can do to show support

Contact the Mayor and City Councillors by phone or email. The Government recognizes that  a large amount of people will never speak up publicly, let alone phone or email them about any public issues, especially when the subject is so controversial. Your input makes a huge difference because whether they agree with you or not, they will always consider the sway of votes.

You can also come to the meeting and let them know how the Canna Mall has made an effect on your life. Every person has a right to be heard… for 5 minutes each to be precise.  After all, Bob Marley said it best, “The more people smoke herb, the more Babylon fall.

To contact Victoria’s Mayor or City Council by phone or email, click here.