In Canada we are ruled by law, not by those who enforce the law or wield government power.
Council must abandon the idea that laws can be enforced selectively according to the whim or discretion of city staff or officials. Similarly, a law cannot be considered “temporary” unless it specifies an expiry date or condition.
Here is another feature of Canadian law that’s not about to change: A municipal government does not have legal authority to regulate cannabis per se.
Copying the federal medical cannabis regulations and pasting them into our own bylaws, as proposed, would be an embarrassing and expensive exercise in futility much like Montreal’s failed attempt to duplicate federal prostitution laws, or New Westminster’s failed attempt to force pawnbrokers to report detailed transaction records.
Nelson is not a country or a province, and shouldn’t try to act like one.
Our municipal government’s role in cannabis legalization is to help our community benefit from it. Councillors rightly point out that our famous underground cannabis economy is unjust because it doesn’t pay enough tax.
This injustice will exist until all cannabis businesses are taxed and regulated with rates and restrictions similar to comparable businesses like pubs, liquor stores, breweries, and pharmacies. As a business community that must be our goal — anything else is hypocrisy.
Some of these businesses are in commercial properties right now, which means they are already contributing to our property tax revenue.
Surely we should encourage that trend — but the latest bylaw proposal is rather discouraging.
City Council should not pass laws that punish businesses for selling the wrong kind of product, nor should it waste time on schemes to reinforce, change, or postpone federal laws. These are unlawful and they won’t work.
Cannabis will continue to be exactly as legal in Nelson as it is elsewhere in BC. Legalization will come with opportunity for us as well as cost.
Let’s not squander the opportunity by trying to delay it, or preparing for some wild-west zombie apocalypse.