Kelowna council wants a piece of future provincial pot shop revenues

The city says it should be compensated for its costs of dealing with marijuana legalization

Kelowna wants a slice of the province’s pot pie.

In addition to telling the province it wants to see marijuana sold in store-front dispensaries that it would have control over through land use zoning regulations and business licensing, Kelowna council says it also wants part of the revenue the province may glean from taxation of the sale of marijuana once it becomes legal next year.

Responding to a call from Victoria for input on how cannabis should be distributed and sold in B.C. once the federal government makes it legal July 1, 2018, Kelowna’s mayor said the city will have to deal with issues such as enforcement of new provincial rules, whatever they are, and that will carry a cost.

So, he and his council iare asking the province to share the revenue it will generate with Kelowna and other municipalities.

“We should be relaying the message as loud and as often as possible in regards to revenue sharing,” said Mayor Colin Basran.

Council has now approved a number of recommendations by city staff regarding how Kelowna would like to see the distribution and sale of marijuana and cannabis products handled in B.C., including having the province distribute it in a similar manner to how liquor is currently distributed.

But instead of selling marijuana in government stores, it wants Victoria to wholesale it to private dispensaries, which, in turn, would sell to the public. Those dispensaries would be controlled by the city through zoning. Rules would be put in place setting out minimum distances between dispensaries and the city would issue business licences.

Council also says that the minimum age for possession should be the same as it is for alcohol and adults should be allowed a maximum of 30 grams, as well as the ability to grow no more than four plants at home and the plants should only be a maximum of one metre high.

Several councillors, including Tracy Gray, said they opposed having marijuana sold through government stores in a similar way liquor is now sold. Gray, who used to run retail wine store in Kelowna, said that method is “costly and inefficient.”

“The least efficient way is for the province to look after (retail) distribution,” said Gray.

Coun. Luke Stack said he was concerned there did not appear to be a focus on education as part of the call for input from the province.

“We have seen that whole education part fall off the table,” he said.

In the end, council went with all the staff recommendations and will add the call for revenue sharing as part of each recommendation it submits.

The input must be submitted to Victoria by Nov. 1.

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