Black Crow Herbal Solutions is one of the several marijuana dispensaries in Vernon facing potential closure due to new City of Vernon regulations. (Jennifer Smith/Morning Star)

Vernon looks to close cannabis shops

Pot shops will have to close in Vernon but it’s not known for how long.

City council directed staff Monday to draft an amendment to a zoning bylaw to prohibit the storefront sale of cannabis as a permitted use.

“It allows us to start looking at some of the safety issues the public has had,” said Mayor Akbal Mund.

Zoning amendments will also be considered that will permit the sale of cannabis following the introduction of appropriate legislation by the province in 2018.

City administration will advise the dispensaries of their effective date of closure and the option to pursue a temporary use permit until such time as council has considered and endorsed amendments to the zoning and business licence bylaws as may be appropriate following the enactment of provincial legislation regulating the sale of cannabis.

“We don’t want to close them because people rely on the medicinal aspect. With the pending legalization, we can determine which way to go (with retail outlets),” said Mund, adding that there are some questions about reopening under a temporary permit.

“We’re not sure what closed means. If they are closed two days, can we issue a temporary permit?”

The city is also setting some ground rules if recreational marijuana use becomes legal.

Federally, non-medicinal cannabis will become legal in July 2018, and the provincial government will regulate the distribution and sale of the product.

“We do not know how the provincial government intends to regulate,” said Kim Flick, the city’s director of community infrastructure and development.

As a result, the city has raised a number of concerns.

“There is potential for a considerable impact to municipal resources, depending on the distribution and sales model ultimately identified. The most impacted services are likely to include bylaw compliance, building and licensing, planning, fire services and the RCMP,” states a staff report.

To ease some of the financial pressures, the city wants a share of the revenue related to cannabis taxation.

Legislation would also allow people to grow up to four cannabis plants with a maximum height of 100 centimetres.

“Administration’s primary concern is the potential impact on adjacent residents, especially in multi-family dwellings like row houses or apartments. Administration believes it is important that local government have the authority to regulate this use,” states the report.

Other concerns revolve around public consumption and where smoking marijuana would be permitted.

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