LETTERS: The business of butts, bottles and bongs

Re: Pot shop doesn’t belong on Beacon Avenue (Letters, Dec. 13).

Should the question be whether any legal drugs are sold on Sidney’s main street? Currently, there are retail sales outlets with Beacon addresses for several legal drugs – tobacco (6), non-prescription pharmaceuticals (5), alcohol (3) and vape (1). Why not cannabis? All are regulated by provincial and federal legislation for legal sales in our community.

If one has a concern regarding this aspect, then have a chat with our MLA or MP. We should be more concerned about the financial implications of these legal drugs.

From the report “Canadian Substance Use Costs and Harms 2007-2014” by the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction, the social impact of alcohol and tobacco far exceed any other legal drug. Almost 70 per cent of total costs were due to alcohol and tobacco. Ninety-three per cent of these costs were distributed across lost productivity, health care and criminal justice.

The costs of cannabis use and harm (seven per cent) are far lower than those of alcohol and tobacco. The decision before the B.C. Supreme Court is whether the cannabis shop application meets the provincial and municipal regulations for retail sales in Sidney.

This application does meet all provincial requirements. At the municipal level, where the Town of Sidney manages the infrastructure of sales of legal goods and services, regulations are specific to when and where through zoning, business licences and store operating hours. The challenge before the courts is not legality but access.

Specifically, it is with respect to the cannabis store’s storefront where the province requires an opaque window and the Town of Sidney requires an “active” storefront for shops on Beacon Avenue. What is an “active” storefront? An active storefront is what makes downtown Sidney walkable. Take a window-shopping stroll down Beacon Avenue to make your own assessment.

As you pass the restaurants, cafes, banks, real estate offices, office and service outlets, note what windows attract your attention. Why? And what does an inactive or empty storefront say? Active is a relative term to the window-shopper.

With respect to Mr. Franklin’s comments about inviting “potheads” on to the streets, how many people are currently walking or driving down the street drinking, smoking, vaping or toking? Can our varied moral codes co-exist? The question is not about cannabis sales on Sidney’s main street. The question is about fair trade and commerce.

Should your neighbour who seeks non-prescriptive pain, anxiety and sleep management have equal local access to his or her legal drug of choice on Beacon Avenue?

Steve Duck

Sidney

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