Cannabis shops that had been operating in the Cowichan Valley shut down after legalization, and have not yet reopened. (Citizen file)

Year in Review: Legalization is here but no cannabis shops in Cowichan yet

2018 was a big year for pot supporters but frustration is growing over slow startup of new system

As 2019 begins, there is still no indication as to when people in the Cowichan Valley will be able to buy recreational marijuana from a legal dispensary.

Canada’s first day for legal pot was Oct. 17, but, ironically, that was also the day that most, if not all, of the approximately eight marijuana dispensaries in the Valley shut their doors.

Most of the dispensaries, which were operating illegally, closed down as part of their efforts to receive provincial and municipal approval to operate after the province made it clear that continuing to operate after Oct. 17 could jeopardize their chances of becoming legal.

RELATED STORY: CANNABIS SHOPS STILL IN LIMBO IN THE VALLEY

Liam Butler, a public affairs officer for the Ministry of Public Safety & Attorney General, said 56 paid applications have been received from the region of Vancouver Island-Gulf Islands-Powell River.

Of those, 26 have been referred back to local governments for their consideration as the locations must be approved by the respective municipalities.

Butler said a number of them are expected to be still undergoing background checks by the province even if they get approval from the municipalities.

The province is conducting background checks to ensure that none of the money involved in the operations is linked to organized crime.

“It’s tough to say when and where the first private retail marijuana dispensary in the province will be fully licensed to open,” he said.

“It will simply be a matter of the timing of processing the applications. It’s taking a long time due to a number of factors, including the recent municipal elections.”

RELATED STORY: MARIJUANA CAUSING CONFUSION IN COWICHAN

Rob Conway, manager of inspections and enforcement with the Cowichan Valley Regional District, said in October he expected it would still be some time yet before retail pot stores are allowed to operate in the CVRD, and likely other municipalities across the province.

He said that while the CVRD’s board had amended its bylaws to regulate the production and sale of marijuana within its jurisdiction, federal and provincial regulations regarding pot are still evolving and will likely necessitate further amendments to the bylaws.

“There’s still a lot of work to be done,” Conway said

RCMP spokeswoman Cpl. Tammy Douglas said only two dispensaries on the Island, both in Port Alberni, were raided and shut down by the police since Oct. 17.

RELATED STORY: TWO B.C. CANNABIS DISPENSARIES RAIDED ON LEGALIZATION DAY

“The RCMP in B.C. will continue to take a measured approach when dealing with illegal storefronts, with public safety being the priority,” Douglas said.

“Detachments will continue to set enforcement priorities in consultation with local governments, partners, and citizens in the community. Police will gather evidence and take enforcement actions accordingly.”

Local governments. That’s the crux of the matter.

At least eight dispensaries had been operating in the Cowichan Valley without business licences from local governments.

RELATED STORY: HEALTH OFFICERS OFFER POT ADVICE TO LOCAL GOVERNMENTS

The provincial government said there would be no “grandfathering” of dispensaries. Even existing businesses had to apply to their local governments.

RELATED STORY: CHEMAINUS DISPENSARY SUCCUMBS TO LEGAL PRESSURE FROM NORTH COWICHAN

And, since every local level of government in the Valley has decided that anyone who wants to put in a marijuana store must apply individually, this has slowed things significantly.

The local process involves coming before council, and then a public hearing. The province also wants information from most of the paid applicants and cannot process them until they get it.



lexi.bainas@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Local Cowichan youth shines in national writing contest

Cowichan Tribe member Danika Smith places fifth in her category in Indigenous Arts & Stories contest

Child hit and killed in driveway in Cobble Hill

The driver of the vehicle remained at the crash scene and is fully cooperating

Cobble Hill’s Price sprints to first Dirt Cup championship

Robbie Price’s first win on the Lucas Oil American Sprint Car Series… Continue reading

Cowichan police warn of cryptocurrency scam

More than $64,000 in losses so far

Campers hailed heroes in rock face rescue at Cowichan Provincial Park

The campers quickly noticed the man in distress and jumped into the river to swim across.

VIDEO: Killer whale steals fisherman’s catch off North Coast

Fishing duel results in eager orca snagging salmon in Prince Rupert

Fate of accused in Canadian couple’s 1987 killings in jury’s hands

William Talbott’s lawyer says DNA doesn’t prove murder

PHOTOS: North Island home gutted in fire deemed ‘suspicious’

No injuries reported; firefighters prevented blaze from spreading

Eating sandwiches, putting on makeup behind the wheel could land you a fine

RCMP say if you cause an accident while eating you could be penalized

Cat badly hurt in animal trap was likely stuck for days, B.C. owner says

Blu, a three-year-old house cat, suffered severe damage to his hind leg after being stuck in trap for days

Vancouver Island woman assaulted after confronting thief

RCMP warn residents to call for police assistance

Island Health issues safer drug-use tips ahead of music festival season

Health authority aims to reduce overdose risks at festivals

40 cats surrendered in apparent hoarding at B.C. home

Officers found the cats living among piles of garbage and feces, suffering from fleas

Vancouver Aquarium drops cetacean ban lawsuit in new lease agreement

Ocean Wise CEO Lasse Gustavsson called the updated lease an exciting new chapter for the aquarium

Most Read