Canadian have a right to access medicinal marijuana. That was a February Supreme Court of Canada decision that has set in motion a flurry of activity in Ottawa — and in any communities across B.C.
The court gave the federal government a deadline to come up with new legislation that would keep pace with their decision. Justin Trudeau’s Liberals are now working on those laws that they say should be ready by summer, 2017. This week, the Liberals announced they would form a task force of learned individuals to hit the road and talk to Canadians as part of a public consultation requirement en route to the big changes.
People wanting to get in on the ground floor of a new medicinal cannabis distribution industry are not waiting until then. In cities and towns all over — and that does include Sidney and its very own Dispensary by the Sea — store fronts are being opened. They are, technically illegal under current Health Canada laws.
However, they are playing off the large gray area created by the court decision and the subsequent vacuum between it and Ottawa’s political process.
That leaves places like Sidney wondering what to do. In the Dispensary’s case, Sidney suspended their business license following a police raid.
Yet, without any charges laid by the Crown to date, they are lacking the high ground to revoke the licence outright.
They could fall back on current laws, but that would ignore the fact that the issue is constantly changing around them.
This particular case has given Sidney the chance to discuss how it wants to address the issue. Certainly, some people are uncomfortable with flouting the current laws. Yet, it would be a case of covering one’s eyes and ears to simply let that be the only answer.
The municipality has decided to look into what other communities are doing and how they can better define medicinal cannabis services within its business licensing system.
It’s a good start. And when the new laws finally do come to pass, Sidney will be ready to help regulate what is already a wild west state of affairs.