Council sends pot message

Kelowna City Council has reaffirmed its stance on the sale of marijuana from storefront locations.

The practice within city boundaries is illegal, for now.

At a public hearing Tuesday night, council voted unanimously to give second and third reading to a bylaw that closes a city loophole.

Previously, city bylaws did not specifically prohibit the storefront sale of marijuana,

"I think the big message to get across here, and we tried to convey that last night, is no storefront dispensaries are allowed in Kelowna yet," said Basran.

"Because, if the provincial government says that will be a legal way for people to get it recreationally, then we will allow it, and put regulations in place similar to cold beer and wine stores."

Things could change, said Basran, once it's legalized.

Until then, he said, storefront dispensaries are not permitted under city bylaw and federal law.

Council heard there are nine such dispensaries operating within the city, without a business licence.

"It's absolutely frustrating that they flaunt federal law, and are operating illegally.

"But, they do so at their own peril because the RCMP will continue to monitor them. We'll see what happens."

Despite Tuesday's decision, Basran said city bylaw officers will not be directed to target the nine illegal shops.

He said the city will continue its practice of responding to bylaw infractions on a complaint basis.

Basran said council did hear from those in the community, urging them to reconsider adopting the bylaw.

However, Basran said most of those were complaining over access to marijuana for medicinal purposes.

He said that's a federal, not municipal issue.

"A lot of them were concerned people who needed it for medicinal issues weren't able to access it because the current federal system doesn't work for them," he said.

"While I sympathize, it's not up to municipal governments to fix how people get access to their medicine. That's something they should be contacting their MP's and MLA's about."

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