Osoyoos Council is expected today to get to work on administering cannabis in the community.

A key item of discussion on today’s regular council meeting agenda — held on Tuesday because of the Canada Day long weekend — is a report from the Town’s Director of Planning and Development Services seeking direction of how to handle cannabis sales.

Town staff will benefit from clear direction from Council in order to respond to the numerous inquiries regarding the possibility of establishing recreational cannabis retail stores in Osoyoos,” explains Gina MacKay in the report to Council. “Furthermore, direction and decision is needed from Council in order to implement new federal and provincial legislation.”

Although the sale and use of marijuana is expected to be legal as of October 17, the sale of cannabis is prohibited under the Town’s Zoning Bylaw.

 

“Until Council decides on whether to allow retail cannabis dispensaries in Osoyoos, enforcement action will be taken on any person or company that attempt(s) to open a retail cannabis business in Osoyoos ahead of it being legalized,” Ms. MacKay writes.

She is asking Council to provide guidance on how to provide for retail sales in the community — or to continue the prohibition — where stores should be located and when cannabis sales would be allowed.

Osoyoos Council is also grappling with the question of how to fund the expected increased municipal expenses accompanying legal cannabis sales in the community and how to provide for the public consumption of marijuana, especially on community beaches and downtown.

In March, it asked Administration to write the provincial Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General and request that local governments receive a minimum of 50% of the revenues that were made available to the provinces from federal government revenue sharing agreement.

The province has previously indicated it will generally allow adults to use non-medical cannabis in public spaces where tobacco smoking and vaping are permitted.

“However, to minimize child and youth exposure, smoking and vaping of non-medical cannabis will be banned in areas frequented by children, including community beaches, parks and playgrounds. Use of cannabis, in any form, will also be banned for all occupants in vehicles,” it says on a provincial website.

Local governments, it adds, “will be able to set additional restrictions, as they do now for tobacco use. In addition, landlords and strata councils will be able to restrict or prohibit non-medical cannabis smoking at tenanted and strata properties.”

Today’s Council meeting is schedule for 2 p.m.

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