PoMo prepares for cannabis legalization

The city of Port Moody will have to amend several bylaws to regulate the sale of cannabis once federal legislation legalizing pot is adopted later in the summer. 

Or the city could just opt to prohibit its sale altogether.

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In a report being presented to council at its Tuesday meeting, staff recommends retail cannabis stores be specifically zoned, much like liquor stores. That means prospective retailers hoping to open a cannabis store in the city would have to apply for a rezoning of the property, which would then be subject to a public hearing.

The city could also adopt a policy to review all applications received by the province’s Liquor Control and Licensing Branch (LCLB), which will be responsible for licensing and monitoring private cannabis stores. That process would also require applicants to hold a public open house to answer questions and receive feedback from the community, which council could then use to inform a resolution to the LCLB to support or reject a license.

The report also recommends cannabis retailers be charged the same annual fee for a business license as those selling liquor — $2,540 — although the city could opt to base its fee on square footage, as it does with other retail stores. That would mean cannabis retailers could pay as little as $260 for an annual license, up to $2,540.

The report, which was authored by Robyn MacLeod, Port Moody’s manager of building, bylaw and licensing, also looked at the implications and costs to the city of legalized cannabis sales and use.

MacLeod said the city’s current  bylaws, which prohibit smoking in city parks as well as within 7.5 metres of any public door, window or air intake, would also apply to the smoking of cannabis. But a bylaw regulating smoking clubs like hookah lounges, where non-tobacco products can be smoked, would have to be updated to ban the smoking of cannabis in such clubs.

The city’s police department will also face increased costs to provide ongoing training to its officers for field sobriety testing and the recognition of drug use, as well as the expense of new roadside screening devices along with training officers to use them, said the report. Some of those costs could be recouped from the city’s cut of the federal government’s new marijuana tax, although what that has yet to be determined. The province has said it will cover the costs of initial training of officers.

“The legalization of cannabis will affect many areas within the city’s current regulations,” said MacLeod.

In a previous report to council, Port Moody Mayor Mike Clay said the city should conduct a review of hours of operation and location of retailers to develop a policy for cannabis stores and their proximity to schools, daycares and liquor retailers.


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