North Cowichan’s rules around marijuana sales within its boundaries will be the focus of a public hearing on July 18.
In anticipation of the upcoming legalization of marijuana, council gave the first two readings in January to a proposed bylaw amendment that would prohibit the retail sale of pot in North Cowichan.
That means that any application to set up a pot shop in the municipality would require a site-specific zoning amendment that would have to come before council to be considered.
A staff report tabled earlier this year indicated that under the municipality’s current zoning, once marijuana becomes legal, retailers would be able to apply to set up pot shops under North Cowichan’s very general “retail store” zoning, which has few constraints, including rules on where they can be established.
“There are different views on whether cannabis dispensaries should be permitted and, if they are permitted, where they should or should not be located within our communities,” said Kyle Young, North Cowichan’s assistant manager of planning and subdivision, in the report.
“In order for the municipality to have the greatest level of control over where these types of operations can or cannot occur, cannabis sales must be defined and regulated in the zoning bylaw.”
The municipality has said the zoning bylaw amendment would not affect any existing, federally licensed cannabis production facilities currently operating under the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulation within North Cowichan.
Other communities are considering amending their marijuana bylaws in the same manner to better control the sale of pot within their jurisdictions once it becomes legal in October, including Lake Cowichan which unanimously passed its amended bylaw on June 26.
Lake Cowichan Mayor Ross Forrest said the public hearing on the issue attracted just four people, two of whom were from a dispensary in Victoria.
“If we didn’t do this, anyone can just come to town and set up a pot shop anywhere,” he said.
The public hearing in North Cowichan begins at 1:30 p.m. on July 18 in the municipality’s council chambers, located at 7030 Trans- Canada Hwy.