Sooke could become the wild, wild west of marijuana distribution if council doesn’t regulate the industry, warns a woman who wants to see more oversight of pot shops.
Ekaterina Karassev, who conducted an online petition this summer, asking for regulation presented her findings to council last week.
Karassev doesn’t want to get rid of medical marijuana stores, only regulate them, she says.
Her biggest concern is that the majority of Greater Victoria municipalities is regulating or banning pot shops, and those businesses could look to Sooke to set up a business here.
Sooke has no form of regulation for marijuana stores, other than the usual requirement of a business licence.
Three medical marijuana stores have opened in Sooke since April There are only two grocery stores and drug stores in Sooke, Karassev said.
Pot problems are high on the agenda for the annual Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in September, says Mayor Maja Tait.
She wants to hear what other B.C. municipalities are doing and what the federal and provincial governments are planning as far as regulation.
The federal government is expected to introduce legislation next spring to legalize recreational marijuana sales.
Sooke councillors say there are many issues revolving around the marijuana stores such as how to regulate them, stores selling untested products, fire hazards, and taxation that need to be hammered out in the months ahead,
“All of us are at the mercy of what the federal government plans to do. Most jurisdictions could create a whole host of bylaws that could be thrown out next year,” said Coun. Rick Kasper.
It was a sentiment echoed by Coun. Bev Berger, who says municipalities enter into a gray area when it comes to regulation of pot stores.
“I believe regulation needs to be part of any dispensary,” she said.
“We regulate the sale of tobacco. We regulate business licences. And nobody can open up a liquor just because they want to without a regulatory process.”
Coun. Brenda Parkinson believes in regulation, too.
“I would prefer we did not have the dispensaries here in Sooke,” she said.
“I feel that because they are illegal that they shouldn’t be here, and once they become legal then that’s fine.”
Parkinson hopes when councillors return from the UBCM at the end of September, council will have some answers and can move forward with a set of bylaws.