EDITORIAL: City hall stuck in the middle on marijuana debate

The situation the City of Penticton finds itself in is very real, and it’s nothing to joke about.

It’s always a temptation when writing about the various marijuana dispensaries that have popped up around town to treat it lightly and slip in puns about pot, weed etc.

The situation the City of Penticton finds itself in is very real, and it’s nothing to joke about.

On one hand, the sale of marijuana from storefronts is illegal. No real way around that; no matter how many court cases or task forces there are looking into the rules surrounding marijuana distribution and legalization, the fact is this type of sales remains illegal and under federal jurisdiction.

On the other hand, change is on its way, though when and what form of legalization will take remains a mystery. In the meantime, the federal government has left municipalities dangling and the RCMP, by all public indications, have taken a hands-off approach.

That leaves city hall right in the middle. They can’t grant a business licence for an illegal activity, nor can they ignore either the demand for cannabis sales on the part of the community.

Faced with these kind of choices, council has done the right thing by suspending the business licences of the four stores already in operation and voting to cancel three of them after listening to their appeals. At the same time, city staff were given 60 days to create a report with options to regulate medical cannabis dispensaries.

Whether or not Penticton city council decides to take the chance, stepping outside their jurisdiction to create a cannabis dispensary business licence policy is another question, but at least they are taking steps towards some sort of a solution.

Whether the client is truly a medical user or recreational, clients of these dispensaries are not going to stop buying pot — they are either going to buy it on the street, or from dispensaries that choose to keep operating regardless of the fines imposed by the city.

Keeping sales off the street would seem to be the better choice.


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