Victoria to press Trudeau on plans for marijuana legalization

The city of Victoria will write to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for clarification on the federal government’s plans for the legalization and regulation of marijuana.

Meanwhile, the city will continue to develop its own regulations governing marijuana shops.

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During the election campaign, the federal Liberals promised to remove Criminal Code provisions against possession and consumption of marijuana and to institute a federal system for sales and distribution.

Victoria councillors Marianne Alto and Chris Coleman suggested pausing efforts to develop regulations surrounding the marijuana retail trade until the city heard from the prime minister or Feb. 19 — whichever came first.

But some councillors, including Jeremy Loveday, worried that might create a “gold rush” effect, with new retailers rushing to get established before any new regulations are imposed.

Faced with an explosion in marijuana-related businesses, Victoria council in May directed staff to develop new regulations for the shops, patterning their approach after Vancouver.

Vancouver has created a two-tiered licensing system that allows compassion clubs to pay a fee of $1,000, while for-profit pot shops must pay $30,000.

To qualify as a compassion club, the organization must be a registered non-profit, serve members and provide a minimum level of other health services such as massage therapy or acupuncture, as well as be a member of the Canadian Association of Medical Cannabis Dispensaries.

Vancouver’s rules also require dispensaries to be located at least 300 metres from schools, community centres and one another.

Victoria city clerk Chris Coates said the report should be before council in two weeks.

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