Brief: Cannabis legalization details remain undefined in Revelstoke

Public consultation process planned for marijuana business applicants

Cannabis plants. Photo: James St. John via Flickr Creative Commons Licence

Municipalities across the country are reviewing policies and bylaws in preparation for the legalization of recreational marijuana this summer. The Liberal federal government announced legislation to legalize marijuana across Canada last year.

In Revelstoke, city staff are working on interim bylaw amendments that more clearly articulate the current prohibition of retail sales.

Nigel Whitehead, director of development services, said the bylaw will remain in place until further information is received from the province and staff are able to develop and implement a regulatory system. The B.C. provincial government released its policy guidelines for the distribution and sale of cannabis in early February. Whitehead said the documents released by the provincial government appear to be a policy document and not the final regulations. He said the city plans to review the document in depth to help staff determine what regulations are required at the municipal level.

A regulatory system for permitting retails sales of cannabis in Revelstoke will go through a public consultation process and city council will have the final say.

“At this time I can’t say when this process will be completed in Revelstoke,” said Whitehead.

The process for a regulatory system in Revelstoke may or may not be completed prior to federal legalization, which is now expected to occur sometime in August. In the meantime, Revelstoke is not permitting retail sales of cannabis until regulations are put in place. It is expected each municipality will have its own timeline in terms of when their regulations around cannabis sales are put into effect. Whitehead said he has heard of municipalities expressing concern to both the federal and provincial governments that the current timeframe for legalization is too short. There is also concern that there are a lack of resources to help municipalities develop adequate regulations prior to legalization, a view Whitehead says he shares.

Currently storefront sales of both medicinal and recreational cannabis remain illegal under federal law. Medicinal cannabis is only permitted to be sold to prescription holders by mail order through federally authorized producers and distributors.

This article first appeared in print in the March 2018 issue of Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine.