Coun. David Chesney said White Rock has “thrown the baby out with the bathwater” by prohibiting any kind of cannabis dispensary in the city through an amendment to the zoning bylaw.
Chesney, who cast the sole opposing vote against final reading of the amendment at Monday night’s council meeting, said the city is confusing the retailing of ‘recreational’ marijuana with the dispensing of medical marijuana products (which has been legally sanctioned since 1999). Full legalization of cannabis is expected to be passed nationally this summer.
Statements by both Mayor Wayne Baldwin and planning and development services director Carl Johannsen, at a public hearing earlier in the evening, stressed that the bylaw amendment is an “interim measure” until the province makes its regulatory framework for cannabis dispensaries clear, and until residents and the city have had time to review and provide input on the legalization.
But Chesney told Peace Arch News following the meeting that council’s decision will leave White Rock’s current users of medical marijuana products – many of whom have mobility challenges or rely on public transport – struggling to fill prescriptions until some form of dispensary is established locally.
“It’s like saying to someone, yes, you have a legal prescription but you’ll have to wait six or seven months to get it,” he said.
“The regulations coming are about recreational use – they have nothing to do with the dispensing of medical marijuana. The difference is night and day. I couldn’t believe that (council and staff) couldn’t get their heads around this.”
Chesney noted many residents spoke at the hearing about the benefits of medical marijuana products based on their own experience or that of people close to them.
“I thought, perhaps, that after the public had spoken (council members) would change their views, but it was ‘damn the torpedoes, let’s have a vote.’ They never thought it through.”