Richmond, B.C. Vows to Shut Doors on Legal Marijuana Dispensaries

Article by Vannessa Hrvatin, The Globe and Mail

The Dispensary in Vancouver, B.C.

Councillors in Richmond, B.C., say they are not prepared to allow storefront sales of marijuana in their city regardless of what model Ottawa eventually settles on once the drug is legalized.

The city is considering a bylaw that would ban illegal marijuana dispensaries, which other cities are controlling through business licences, and local politicians said they want it to continue even when marijuana is legal.

“Legalization doesn’t mean to say we have to follow suit,” councillor Bill McNulty said in an interview. “We want to keep a safe community. … Just because the federal government is there doesn’t mean to say they always make good decisions.”

Ottawa is expected to table legislation this spring that will legalize and regulate recreational marijuana over the next two years. Last month, a task force recommended against allowing liquor stores to sell cannabis and the federal government may let the provinces decide where it can be sold. Earlier this week, council received a committee recommendation to amend a bylaw that would not permit dispensaries in any zone of the city. While the stores are still illegal under federal law, they have proliferated in cities such as Vancouver and Victoria, where local governments have opted to require business licences rather than shut them down.

“At this time, [dispensing marijuana] is an illegal activity and it’s prohibited,” Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie said in an interview. “If we allow an illegal activity to carry on in this city, how do you deal with any other illegal activity?”

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