A Vernon pot shop is challenging BC’s new cannabis laws by staying open.
Russ Stevenson, owner of Herb’s Healing Centre, says he’s selling all products including edibles, which are not allowed provincially.
“My lawyer has told me, if I close, I’m violating my patients’ rights, so at that, I’ve sort of got to take the risk and be here for my patients. They do need their medicine and there is basically no options for them, especially with Canada Post going on strike on Monday,” Stevenson tells Beach Radio News.
Stevenson was also open on Wednesday when he gave away about $6,000 worth of products to 200 of his existing customers, only charging them the provincial tax.
“People who were coming in who weren’t members were in tears because all the places they’ve been getting their medicine have closed, and I couldn’t take them on as new members at the moment.”
Stevenson says many of his clients are on disability and low income, so the event allowed them to stock up and try products they had never tried before.
“I think it was very successful.”
Given that no provincial licenses for selling cannabis have been issued, Stevenson expects he will get a visit from the City bylaws staff at some point.
“The stores have to be here for the medical people, and if I have to be out there a little bit to see where this goes, that is what I’m doing, and that’s what my lawyer has asked me to do.”
On another cannabis issue, the City of Vernon issued a release Thursday outlining which level of government is responsible for what
The federal Cannabis Act received Royal Assent on June 21, 2018, setting the stage for the production, distribution, sale, possession, and consumption of non-medical cannabis, beginning October 17, 2018.
The Federal Government will be responsible for licensing and monitoring cannabis producers and for setting industry-wide rules and standards for the cultivation, processing, packaging and advertising of non-medical cannabis.
Provinces and territories control the distribution and retail sales of non-medical cannabis within their jurisdictions. The BC Provincial Government has appointed the Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB) to be the exclusive wholesale distributor of non-medical cannabis, while retail sales will be offered to the public through a combination of government and privately owned stores, as well as online through the government site.
Municipal governments can regulate retail, cultivation, processing and research locations through their zoning authority, and some aspects of retail operations through their business licensing authority. Municipal governments may also support the federal and provincial governments with public education. Enforcement of cannabis sales rules and regulations is largely through the provincial government, except for the land use and licensing aspects that are regulated by municipal government.
The City of Vernon is proposing to amend Zoning Bylaw #5000 to permit cannabis sales in the following commercial zoning districts: C3 to C12 – Commercial, RTC – Resort Commercial, CD1 and CD5 – Comprehensive Development District.
In addition, the proposed amendments would permit cannabis cultivation facilities (medical, non-medical, micro-cultivation, hemp and nurseries) in the A1 – Agriculture within the ALR (a minimum of 50 m from any property where residential is the principal use) and I1 – Light Industrial districts (in enclosed buildings only), pursuant to licensing by the federal government.
Also, the proposed amendments would permit cannabis processing, micro-processing, analytical testing and research in the I1 – Light Industrial and I4 – Business Park zoning districts.
These proposed zoning changes will be brought before City Council in the coming weeks. A public hearing will be held to gather public input on the proposed zoning changes.
Recreational versus medical cannabis
While recreational cannabis use is now legal in Canada, it is important to keep in mind that medical cannabis is officially available with a physician’s prescription by mail order and is regulated by the federal government. You cannot buy prescription cannabis at a retail location.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where can I use recreational cannabis?
Smoking and vaping of all products is allowed on private property unless otherwise prohibited.
Smoking and vaping is permitted on sidewalks provided it is not within 6 m of a doorway or air intake, and provided the sidewalk is not adjacent to a school or playground. Smoking and vaping of all products is prohibited at transit stops, parks, playgrounds, schools, lake access sites and boat launches.
Will the City of Vernon enforce the no smoking/no vaping bylaw?
Yes. Bylaw officers may issue warnings for the short term however they reserve the right to issue tickets to gain compliance.
Who should I call if I see someone smoking or vaping outside of the designated areas?
Citizens can call the Bylaw department at 250-550-3505. Bylaw Compliance Officers will attend; however more serious calls are attended to first, which may delay arrival. You can also use the VernonConnect app to report concerns. The app is available for iOS and Android devices.
Can I legally buy cannabis in Vernon on and after October 17, 2018?
Cannabis can be purchased from provincially-licensed cannabis retailers; however, as of October 17, 2018, there are no provincially-licensed retailers in Vernon. This will change over time.