Robert’s column

Robert Barron column: Patience required for local pot stores

Still none open in the Valley months after legalization

It’s been more than five months since recreational marijuana was made legal in Canada, and there’s still no private pot shops open for business in the Cowichan Valley.

In fact, it may still take some time for the one that appears the closest to successfully surfing through what appears to be endless bureaucracy to finally receive a business licence.

Allenby Road’s Cowichan Valley Access Centre has recently received support from the Cowichan Valley Regional District’s board after a successful review and background check of its application by the Provincial Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch.

The application has now gone back to the province for final approval for a business licence.

One would think that the lengthy application process for the store is finally coming to an end, but owner Sophie Reid told me last week that it could be May before a licence is finally issued.

There are currently at least 20 other applications for recreational marijuana shops in the Valley at various stages through the application process, with none looking like they will be given the green light to open anytime soon.

Both the province and the various local governments in the Valley, as well as across B.C., each have their own regulatory processes covering different aspects of the licensing of the pot shops; with local governments mainly concerned with land-use issues while the province looks at security, financial and other aspects of the applications, including the background of the applicants.

Chris Hutton, North Cowichan’s community planning coordinator, explained to me that recreational pot sales is an entirely new industry and all levels of bureaucracy are still trying to figure out how to deal with the “front end” of the many issues involved in establishing it in Canadian communities.

But the federal government announced it intended to make recreational pot legal more than two years ago so one has to ask why governments, from local to senior levels, were not more prepared for processing these applications in a timely manner when pot was legalized on Oct. 17.

Local governments shouldn’t be faulted as they had to wait for Ottawa and the province to finalize the details of exactly who was responsible for the many varied aspects of the new industry before they could determine how they should move forward in accommodating applications for pot shops within their jurisdictions.

That happened just months before October, leaving many local governments scrambling.

The Valley had eight pot shops, who were all operating illegally without business licences, before October.

But, ironically, now that it’s legal, there’s less easily accessible pot for sale in the Valley than there has been for years.

However, that hasn’t put a damper on Reid’s patient enthusiasm for her shop.

“We just finished some renovations at the store and my staff has all their security clearances,” she cheerfully told me in our conservation last week.

“The store is ready to go and we’re just waiting for the licence.”

There’s no doubt the new industry in the Valley is off to a slow start but, despite the bungling of senior levels of government in kicking it off, stores will open up here at some point and I expect the processes will get easier for applicants over time.

But it appears those who hoped it would hit the ground running will have to be patient a little longer.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Forest co-op will be soon be giving money away

Cowichan Lake residents and groups will be able to apply in a couple of months

City of Duncan conducts third Citizen Survey

Survey will be held from March 20 to April 3

Drivesmart column: Intersection Watch sees many drives who don’t know the rules

321 drivers executed either a rolling stop or no stop at all.

Shawnigan Lake residents rally to rebuild memorial bus shelter

Nick’s Stop is a reminder for all to slow down

Cowichan Valley U18 Silver boys’ team’s historic run ends in semis

The successful season that saw the Cowichan Valley U18 Silver boys win… Continue reading

Sparks fly as SUV speeds down wrong side of Highway 1 trying to flee RCMP

Captured on video, the vehicle headed westbound against oncoming traffic before crashing

Coming up in Cowichan: World Water Day

Shawnigan Lake marks World Water Day Got clean local water? “The ability… Continue reading

Bobrovsky perfect as Blue Jackets blank Canucks 5-0

Vancouver shut out for 10th time this season

Fundraising campaign launched for man caught in SilverStar avalanche

In only two days, the GoFundMe surpassed its $15,000 goal

Terror at sea: Helicopter rescues frightened cruise passengers in Norway

The Viking Sky cruise ship was carrying 1,300 passengers and crew when it experienced engine trouble

Search and rescue team helicopters injured climber from B.C. provincial park

A 30-year-old woman suffered a suspected lower-limb fracture in Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park

DOJ: Trump campaign did not co-ordinate with Russia in 2016

Attorney General William Barr said special counsel “does not exonerate” Trump of obstructing justice

Trudeau in Vancouver to support Tamara Taggart at Liberal nomination event

The former broadcaster is seeking the nomination for the Vancouver Kingsway riding

Trudeau calls May 6 byelection for B.C. riding of Nanaimo-Ladysmith

The riding opened up when Sheila Malcolmson resigned in January

Most Read