Ladysmith has sent a clear message to any potential dispensaries owners that the retail sale of marijuana is strictly prohibited in the municipality pending any sort of federal regulations.
“There is too much evidence that states that this is not the right time for it and you’re asking for more impacts on a community, both in terms of police resources and taxpayer costs, rather than making it very clear that it’s prohibited in the short term,” said Mayor Aaron Stone at last Monday’s public hearing on the amendment to the zoning bylaw.
“So although I support legalization for both medical use and for recreational use I still have to support the bylaw as it stands.”
The bylaw now strictly prohibits the retail sale of marijuana or any product containing the plant, such as oils or other edible forms such as baked goods.
Letters to the town in recent weeks were just about even on whether to adopt the changes, with a handful more residents opposing the new rules.
However, at the meeting applause met each delegate who stepped up to the microphone and suggested Ladysmith councillors should back down from the bylaw amendment and wait for federal legislation.
Some of the conversation in recent weeks had been focused on the Traveller’s Hotel after Nanaimo investor Richard Scott offered to purchase the long-abandoned building with conditions of the sale tied to council’s openness in permitting a dispensary.
“I don’t believe this bylaw amendment has anything to do with the Traveller’s Hotel although I do believe that everybody around this table would love to see the Traveller’s Hotel refurbished, opened up and become a prosperous business,” said Councillor Duck Paterson.
Council first asked staff in September to report back on best practices for marijuana zoning bylaws in other municipalities such as Port Alberni, Vancouver and Victoria.
More recent interest in the Traveller’s didn’t start to take shape until last December and made public in a Facebook post by Scott in February.
Greg Bolter is involved in the offer to purchase the building and asked hypothetically what Ladysmith would do if new federal measures made liquor stores the point of sale for marijuana.
“I think a well thought out bylaw would be better than making a bylaw and later on trying to rectify it,” he said.
“It’s not like Ladysmith is the biggest market out there. We just sort of like the building. If you guys don’t want marijuana or dispensaries in your community then we don’t want to be here either.”