Editorial: Change in North Cowichan cannabis shop policy only makes sense

The existing rules make no sense unless the goal is prohibition.

The existing rules make no sense unless the goal is prohibition.

North Cowichan is going to be considering removing parts of its policy on locating marijuana shops within its jurisdiction, and we say it’s about time.

What will go: the requirements that shops be at least 300 metres from each other and 600 metres from schools, playgrounds and places where children or youth gather. These rules, in many cases, made it literally impossible for a cannabis shop to set up anywhere in a small community. Cowichan’s small communities, and even Duncan, are compact, with schools and playgrounds integrated into or located very close to the business districts. This is a great asset. But the place to have cannabis shops is also within the business districts of these communities, and the rules prevented this. If strictly followed by council, it made it virtually impossible to get approval for a pot shop.

So unless the idea was for council to be able to turn down all comers, which we don’t think is the case, the rules have to change.

It makes sense, for example, for two pot shops to be able to open in Cowichan Commons, as is currently proposed. But if one abides strictly by the policy criteria, no cannabis retailers would be able to open there, as it is too close to a school, the B.C. Forest Discovery Cente, and several playgrounds. Yet it is one of the biggest shopping centres in the Valley.

Recently, an application for a marijuana shop in Chemainus was turned down, in spite of the fact that the same shop had operated successfully in the same location before cannabis became legal. It would be nice to see a reconsideration of that application.

Those who want to legally buy marijuana are frustrated with how byzantine provincial and local regulations have so far kept all doors closed in the Cowichan Valley. It was easier for people to buy cannabis here before legalization. Theatre of the absurd. This reconsideration only makes sense. Council can still say yay or nay, but without the unworkable guidelines.

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