Photo Courtesy: Taylor Chartrand

Originally, nation-wide cannabis use was slated to be legalized as of July 1st, 2018.

As most of us are aware, that date has now changed to October 17th, 2018.

Although that may have upset a few people, the Town of Smithers is using this additional time to be prepared.

Nothing is concrete at this point and that is made evident by Smithers Mayor, Taylor Bachrach.

“This is a big change that is not only going to impact Smithers but the entirety of Canada. A lot of the regulations are covered by Federal and Provincial legislation but there are some decisions we’ll have to make as a municipality. That would include such things as cannabis use in public areas and the potential sites of dispensaries within the community. Those are some things we’ll have to put some serious thought into and we’re looking for as much public feedback as possible heading into the coming months.”

Photo Courtesy: Taylor Chartrand

Bachrach says the biggest question now is whether or not the town decides to get all their ducks in a row for the legalization date OR does the town take a more cautious approach and follow the lead of other communities?

“The public will ultimately decide the rules and regulations. It’s going to be one heck of a conversation going forward and I know there is quite the range of opinions regarding cannabis. Town staff plan on scheduling a couple public consultations between now and the end of August to really gauge how the community feels.”

With her two-sense on the cannabis discussion, here’s Councillor Gladys Atrill.

“Come October of this year, cannabis is going to be legal whether people like it or not. Now what we need to figure out as a community is, how we move forward together with the rules and regulations. It all begins with knowing how area residents feel. Once we have that information we can apply it to regulations that fit the community. We may not get everything done by October 17th but the important piece will be consulting with the public before then.”

The provincial legislation under consideration at this time includes the following:

  • a legal purchase age of at least 19
  • stand-alone public and private cannabis stores which are not allowed to sell alcohol or tobacco alongside cannabis
  • a provincial distribution network handled by the Liquor Distribution Branch
  • a personal possession limit of 30 grams for recreational use
  • a limit of four plants grown per household, which is not allowed to be visible from public spaces off the property
  • the power for strata councils and landlords to forbid growing plants inside condos and apartment buildings
  • a registration process for businesses that want licenses, including shops already in operation
  • a ban on new drivers in ICBC’s graduated licensing program from having any THC in their system or using cannabis before driving
  • a new 90-day administrative driving penalty for those who are impaired by drugs while driving, based on “analysis of a bodily substance or an evaluation by a specially trained drug recognition expert”
  • a new series of cannabis-related offenses with fines ranging from $2,000 to
    $100,000 and jail time of three to 12 months
  • any cannabis dispensary operator will be required to first get approval from the local municipal council before gaining a provincial permit.