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City needs zoning rules in event of marijuana legalization: councillors

Coun. Ross Eadie

WAYNE GLOWACKI /WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Coun. Ross Eadie

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 30/9/2015 (1388 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Two Winnipeg city councillors want zoning regulations in place that will restrict where marijuana and related products can be sold once the drug is legalized or decriminalized.

But while two local medical marijuana advocates applaud the move, and Vancouver continues to push ahead with its own decision to create zoning regulations for medical marijuana-related businesses, a national advocate against legalizing marijuana says city councillors should mind their own business.

Couns. Ross Eadie (Mynarski) and Matt Allard (St. Boniface) brought a motion to city council Wednesday that asks the administration to look at how other Canadian municipalities are regulating marijuana and what can work here.

Eadie told reporters he knows the question of legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana is divisive but he added the city has no restrictions where head shops or associated retail outlets can be located.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 30/9/2015 (1388 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Two Winnipeg city councillors want zoning regulations in place that will restrict where marijuana and related products can be sold once the drug is legalized or decriminalized.

But while two local medical marijuana advocates applaud the move, and Vancouver continues to push ahead with its own decision to create zoning regulations for medical marijuana-related businesses, a national advocate against legalizing marijuana says city councillors should mind their own business.

Couns. Ross Eadie (Mynarski) and Matt Allard (St. Boniface) brought a motion to city council Wednesday that asks the administration to look at how other Canadian municipalities are regulating marijuana and what can work here.

Eadie told reporters he knows the question of legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana is divisive but he added the city has no restrictions where head shops or associated retail outlets can be located.

"The country is changing, these issues are there and we should be ready," Eadie said.

The motion was automatically referred to the property and development committee for consideration.

Eadie said the city should have similar restrictions in place for marijuana that now apply to body rub parlours, bath houses and pawn shops.

The outcome of the federal election could determine if marijuana use remains illegal, he said, adding Winnipeg should be ready for when that happens.

Eadie suggested rules be put in place that would prevent marijuana outlets from opening near schools and playgrounds.

Eadie said the city could require a marijuana retail operation be subject to public hearings.

"We the city can have some controls under our zoning bylaws," Eadie said. "We can’t keep our heads buried in the sand."

One of the cities Winnipeg bureaucrats will look at is Vancouver. A Vancouver spokesman said the city is continuing to work towards putting in place zoning and business licensing regulations for medical marijuana dispensaries since approving it in June.

Glenn Price, owner of Your Medical Cannabis Headquarters, which opened at 1404 Main St. in June as a marijuana dispensary before it shut down that side of the operation after Price was charged in August, said he supports the direction city councillors are moving in.

"This is what I was after all along," Price said.

"I believe the city of Winnipeg needs this. If the federal government is doing such a good job than why would I have got 720 patients in 21 days when I was open?

"We should have free and easy access like other cities. That is my goal."

Price said his next court appearance, on charges of possession and trafficking of marijuana, along with proceeds of crime, is on Oct. 14.

Until his charges are dealt with, Price said his store is open to hand out information as well as sell items including "pipes, T-shirts, hats as well as hemp products like shampoos, soap and lip balm."

Bill Vandergraaf, a former Winnipeg police officer who is pushing for marijuana legalization, said the move by the city councillors is "very encouraging for them to take a proactive approach before legalization."

"I think it’s a wise move. We have to see how we can regulate this product to keep it away from our children."

Vandergraaf pointed to the drug-related offences in Canada report by Statistics Canada from earlier this week, showing Winnipeg police are already charging people with marijuana possession at a lower rate than most major cities across the land, with Winnipeg ranking 28 out of 34.

"It’s simply an unfair process," he said.

"It’s not right to have a kid getting charged in one city and not in the next. It brings the law into disrepute."

But Pamela McColl, of British Columbia-based Smart Approaches to Marijuana Canada, said she doesn’t understand why councillors are wading into an area of federal responsibility.

"This is absolutely putting the cart before the horse — we have two of the federal parties running for office that have different opinions on this," McColl said.

"(The city councillors) weren’t elected to do this. It’s not their mandate... I think it’s all show and all politics."

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

kevin.rollason@freepress.mb.ca

Aldo Santin

Aldo Santin
Reporter

Aldo Santin is a veteran newspaper reporter who first carried a pen and notepad in 1978 and joined the Winnipeg Free Press in 1986, where he has covered a variety of beats and specialty areas including education, aboriginal issues, urban and downtown development. Santin has been covering city hall since 2013.

Read full biography

Kevin Rollason

Kevin Rollason
Reporter

Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.

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History

Updated on Wednesday, September 30, 2015 at 1:43 PM CDT: Updated.

3:58 PM: Adds comments from Glenn Price.

6:19 PM: Write-through, adds sidebar

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