Langford Mayor Stew Young was quick to lay the blame for the opening of a marijuana dispensary in the city at the feet of Justin Trudeau.
The prime minister’s election promise to legalize marijuana, and the lack of a concrete plan in place more than 15 months later, puts municipalities, police and bylaw enforcement in a bad situation, Young said. Langford will not approve dispensaries or the sale of marijuana under any circumstances until the federal government had put the proper regulations and procedures in place, he added.
“They could do it tomorrow if they allowed pharmacies to sell it for medicinal purposes from producers already approved by Health Canada,” he said. “Pharmacies have been selling drugs in Canada for more than 100 years.”
West Shore RCMP moved quickly to shut down the Green Tree Medical Dispensary in the 600 block of Granderson Road on Tuesday, one day after it opened. Const. Alex Berube said in a media release that investigators conducted a compliance check on the storefront and found evidence of possible offences under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Police took action immediately, seizing some marijuana. The location is close to several schools and a stone’s throw from the West Shore RCMP Detachment.
Langford bylaw had visited the premises the day before and informed the owners that Langford’s bylaws limit the sale of marijuana to pharmacies.
When the Gazette called the Nanaimo number listed online for Green Tree Medical Dispensary for a comment, the person who answered identified that location as Weeds Dispensary.
What concerns Young about the number of dispensaries popping up in other communities, such as Victoria, is the lack of regulations for the operation and the lack of inspection protocols that govern location, quality of product and age for consumption. “The fentanyl crisis clearly illustrates that we need to have the strongest safeguards in place,” he said.
If and when marijuana is legalized for recreational and medicinal use, he added, it should be produced and distributed through operations approved by Health Canada. “This is going to be a problem for the next two or three years until the federal government gets their act together.”
Young told the Gazette that the City had no prior discussion with the owners and that they had not applied for a business license, although about 10 people have inquired about licenses for dispensaries in the past.
Berube noted that there is no legal mechanism in Canada that allows for medicinal marijuana dispensaries or compassion clubs to sell pot to the public, regardless of whether or not the people purchasing the product have licenses to possess marijuana or not, and regardless of whether the vendor has a license to produce it.