Despite the rhetoric, fear and general sky-is-falling condemnation from proponents of marijuana dispensaries in Nelson, there is no need to panic about the bylaw that was approved at city hall this week.
City council voted on a bylaw on Monday night to regulate certain aspects of dispensaries in the city, but have pledged not to shut down any current dispensaries.
The reason behind the bylaw is to ensure that these businesses operate in the same manner as any other business in the community. Nothing more.
By approving this zoning bylaw, city council is moving to ensure that these businesses operate under the umbrella of good community planning, and to ensure there is a level playing field for current and future dispensaries.
There is an obvious growth in this industry, and council is attempting to get some rules behind where and how these and future shops are governed.
Prior to the bylaw passing, it has been a free for all in regards to these shops, now popping up routinely.
But there are necessary questions that need to be answered, and regulated. For example: how many dispensaries should be allowed on Baker Street? How do pot shops affect adjacent businesses? How do we ensure these products are not being sold to minors? Are security bars needed on these shops to dissuade some from breaking in? What about signage? Heritage buildings and painting?
There seems to be no doubt that the federal government will legalize recreational marijuana for sale and personal use, and not just medical.
When this happens, I’m sure no one would like to see Baker Street filled with 50 dispensaries from those looking to cash in on this new industry. The move by council to have some rules behind zoning is prudent.
The challenge and doubt by those opposed to the new zoning bylaw came from a lack of communication from city hall, who seemed unsure what exactly this new bylaw would accomplish.
Reporter Will Johnson and I spent several hours trying to get that straight answer to what should have been a simple question. Even councillor Bob Adams was unsure at the council meeting about what the implications of the bylaw would be.
The city is doing what it should be doing: ensuring there is a level playing field, ensuring there is some regulations to the business aspect of these shops, and ensuring these businesses operate under good community planning.
Perhaps those who so worried about this bylaw should just relax, appreciate that they have a progressive council, and maybe have a smoke?