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White Rock staff to present recommendation to remove medicinal-marijuana zoning

Medicinal marijuana advocate Joy Davies speaks at a Jan. 23 forum on legalizing marijuana. - Sarah Massah photo
Medicinal marijuana advocate Joy Davies speaks at a Jan. 23 forum on legalizing marijuana.
— image credit: Sarah Massah photo

Residents campaigning for a provincial medicinal-marijuana program have hit a couple of roadblocks.

Canadian Medical Cannabis Partners has been lobbying the City of White Rock for support of a provincial medicinal-marijuana program, as new federal regulations that will shift the program to a system of regulated commercial growers are set to kick in April 1.

However, a recommendation to the city’s land-use and planning committee from the acting director of planning  proposes an amendment that would prohibit the cultivation, growth, storage and distribution of medical marijuana anywhere in White Rock.

Previously, city staff had recommended creating a zone for the operations but not applying the zone to any property.

“Although this was an initial recommendation from the Union of BC Municipalities, the city has since found that a zoning amendment bylaw is invalid if it provides for a zone but does not actually zone a property,” the report states.

The recommendation (discussed Monday after Peace Arch News’ press time) comes on the heels of a town-hall forum on legalizing marijuana sponsored by the federal Liberals, where about 75 people packed Sunnyside Hall Thursday to hear four panelists.

Responding to a question from CMCP founding member Joy Davies, former BC Liberal solicitor general Kash Heed said a provincial medicinal-marijuana program would not come to fruition for now.

“The provincial governments are just going to point the finger at Ottawa and say that it’s a federal piece of legislation,” he said. “I don’t think you’re going to be able to change it. I think we have to go with what we have and make the best of it until we move to the next level of legalization.”

After the forum, however, Davies told PAN she doesn’t believe Heed was correct.

“This just means we have more work to do. We understand there is a cognitive dissonance that happens in government and between individuals in government,” she said.

Davies noted that Surrey-White Rock MLA Gordon Hogg, who also attended, had been supportive of the group’s efforts to organize an inclusive discussion on the subject.

Hogg told PAN he has had conversations with the solicitor general, the attorney general and the minister of health about the federal medicinal-marijuana plans.

“A letter has gone to the federal government in respect to this issue and I’m hoping for more collaboration and more opportunity for input from these groups… and ensure that the legislation coming into effect from the federal government is tempered in its application,” he said. “The whole notion is developing a policy with the end users in mind, and the users of this policy certainly at this point have not had that opportunity.”

 

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