Canada officially legalized recreational marijuana Oct. 17 but there is still a lot to consider when it comes to how this new reality will play out on the local level.
Thornhill marijuana activist Bob Erb says local and provincial lawmakers should be consulting more with those experienced in the industry to get a better picture of how to regulate legalized marijuana.
As a self-confessed 15-joint-a-day smoker, Erb has been a long time supporter of legalized cannabis, organizing events and rallies under his advocacy group Erb4Herb.
“I think it’s a big injustice to fledgeling businesses where they have to pay higher taxes and license fees to do business — why are they being picked on and discriminated against because of the nature of the industry?” Erb said over the phone.
“The city council has to go reach out to people that have some credibility of knowing all aspects of the marijuana industry from the ground up, and have been involved in it for 40, 50 years. I meet that criteria. I’ve run for mayor, I’ve run for MLA, I’ve run for city council…the people making the decisions certainly should be listening to all sides.”
With or without consultants like Erb, local laws around recreational cannabis have started falling into place.
To help sort through the haze, here is how the City of Terrace and Regional District of Kitimat/Stikine are planning to deal with legalization, and what residents need to know before lighting up.
Those over the age of 19 in B.C. looking to buy recreational marijuana online must go through the province’s BC Cannabis Store website. Buyers can purchase up to 30 grams of dried cannabis or the equivalent in oils, capsules or seeds at a time.
To make sure minors aren’t buying cannabis online, two pieces of government-issued ID are required to pick up an order. If that check fails, the package is shipped back to the distribution centre and the cost is refunded.
Currently, BC Cannabis Stores offer standard shipping through Canada Post with a $10 shipping fee.
Opening a store
Private stores looking in the area first have to apply to the LCRB and pay a $7,500 application fee, which covers mandatory background checks of financial and criminal records, on top of a $1,500 first year licensing fee.
During this time, the city receives a written notification from the LCRB that an application is under review and the applicant can then submit a license application to the city. The city has said they won’t start processing applications until the province says the business has passed their assessment.
The application fee for a storefront cannabis retail license in Terrace was tentatively set at $1,500 on Oct. 9 – a price that’s in line with provincial recommendations and the most expensive in the city. Locations must also maintain a 100-metre distance from another marijuana store in select downtown commercial zones and 300-metres away from schools.
The City of Terrace received its first formal referral for a potential store downtown from the province earlier this month and says they could see four more applications in the future.
One of the four, Deviant Fibres, a hemp store on Lakelse Avenue, is looking to expand into recreational marijuana and says they’ve started their application with the province.
For Thornhill and other areas outside Terrace, the RDKS planning and development services manager Ted Pellegrino said the district is working on bylaws regulating where federally licensed production facilities can locate, along with bylaws regulating retail locations and business hours. A bylaw pertaining to these issues is expected to go to the board in November.
What isn’t allowed
Yes, marijuana is legal now – but that doesn’t mean users can light up wherever they please.
In line with provincial regulations, the City of Terrace revised their parks and public places bylaw – Bylaw No. 1942-2009 – to ban the smoking and vaping of cannabis in any parks, cemeteries, public places, playgrounds, boulevards or other properties owned by the city. This includes outside the Sportsplex, swimming pools, playgrounds, sports fields and skate parks.
A six-metre distance was also established from transit shelters, bus stops and other transportation spots.
If caught, an amendment to the ticketing bylaw will clear the way for fines of $200.
RDKS is following the same guidelines as the province on public consumption.
Drivers should also note there is a new 90-day Administrative Driving Prohibition (ADP) if the police believe a driver operated the vehicle while under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. This will be based on being evaluated by a trained police drug recognition expert.
Edibles will not be allowed for sale for the first year, but users are allowed to make their own goodies at home.
Be careful when travelling with cannabis too, as laws are different between provinces and territories.
What is allowed
Anyone can carry up to 30 grams of cannabis on them in public and can smoke in designated areas and inside private residences if allowed by the property owner. Registered hotel guests may smoke or vape cannabis in their hotel rooms, but only if the hotel gives the go-ahead. Community care facilities assisted living residences and hospitals can also designate specific rooms where patients can smoke or vape marijuana.
People can also grow up to four non-medical plants per household (as long as it’s not a daycare facility). However, landlords can restrict or prohibit this on their properties. Make sure the plants aren’t visible from a public place, like sidewalks, parks or streets.
—with files from Michael Grace-Dacosta and Shannon Lough