White Rock council voted Monday in favour of a zoning amendment bylaw effectively prohibiting cannabis dispensaries as a land use in the city – following a public hearing in which many residents spoke in support of the medical benefits of marijuana-based products.
The zoning amendment bylaw passed third and final reading, with only Coun. David Chesney casting an opposing vote.
But Mayor Wayne Baldwin was at pains to point out to close to 100 people who filled council chambers for the hearing that the current amendment is viewed as a temporary measure only – or, as planning and development services director Carl Johannsen put it, “hitting the pause button” until the province makes its regulatory framework for cannabis dispensaries clear and the city and residents have the opportunity to review and provide input on the legalization of cannabis.
“Bear in mind this is an interim measure – it’s not the end of the world as we know it,” Baldwin said.
He reiterated this later in the public hearing, after hearing from many residents who support medical uses of marijuana, or have benefited from such use in alleviating pain and suffering for themselves or relatives.
“We’re not here to squelch medical marijuana – that’s not the purpose,” he said.
“It’s got to do with the fact that the province doesn’t have a clue, and we don’t have a clue, on what the rules are going to be. Until we get that, all of this is moot.”
“It will prevent the unauthorized retailing of cannabis in White Rock,” Johannsen had said earlier.
“Upon receiving the province’s framework for the regulation of cannabis, staff will review and bring recommendations forward to council…it’s expected a further amendment to the zoning bylaw as well as other city bylaws will be necessary to effectively regulate cannabis once it becomes legal,” he added.
Full legalization of cannabis (medical uses have been sanctioned since 1999) is expected to be passed nationally this summer.