Article by Bill Cleverley, Times Colonist
Lounges that permit people to use cannabis on site will continue to be high-priority enforcement areas under city regulations, says Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps.
“I think we do need a place for the safe consumption of cannabis and I hope that the federal government and the provincial government will create that in their regulatory regime,” Helps said Thursday during discussion of enforcement efforts. “But right now, it’s not part of our business licence process and nor do I think it should be.
“I think that consumption is a health issue. It’s not a business issue and it shouldn’t be privatized,” she said.
Consumption on premises is not permitted under the city cannabis regulation bylaw. In the past nine months the city has levied $4,000 in fines for allowing consumption on site, city clerk Chris Coates said.
The smoking lounges, along with four retailers who have not applied for rezoning and business licensing, are the city’s highest priority for enforcement, Coates said. Applications for court injunctions with the B.C. Supreme Court against operators that continue to flout regulations are being finalized.
Helps said the city “has really taken a risk and has been progressive” with its efforts to regulate cannabis sales in advance of federal regulations, so those who are not following the city’s rules “should be enforced against.”
In an interview, Helps said there’s no question that consumption regulation is a matter for senior governments. “Safe consumption services, A) are not a business and B) it’s a health issue.” Like safe consumption sites for injection drug use, it’s an issue for the Ministry of Health, she said.