Morinville Council mulls pot legislation

by Tristan Turner

Council has been presented with a draft bylaw to amend the Town’s Land Use Bylaw in preparation for the anticipated legalization of cannabis that is expected to come into law in the fall of 2018.

The draft legislation was presented by Schaun Goodeve, Morinville’s Director of Planning and Economic Development, and detailed the requirements of Alberta’s announced cannabis legislation and the requirements of federal legislation. Goodeve stressed that there is some caution in amending the bylaws prematurely until cannabis possession/use have been removed from the Criminal Code, but that the Town should be prepared to have the appropriate amendments to their bylaw prepared in time for the changes later this year.

In the draft law, the sale and use of cannabis is a controlled substance treated similarly in the bylaw to alcohol, with the stipulation of the additional restrictions the province has placed on cannabis (including restrictions on public use, self-growing and driving under the influence etc.).

Following receiving this information, Deputy Mayor Dafoe moved a motion for council to receive First Reading of the legislation.

Councillor Boutestein noted her initial disapproval of the motion because of concerns for the timing and “tying up loose ends” saying she believes council should wait until federal legislation is finalized until the town moves forward with their amendments to their Bylaws.

CAO Isbister clarified that he recommended passing First Reading to get it ‘on our books’ so that the Town will be ready for public consultation and discussion, and suggested that if at a later date council decides that the law needs substantial changes, or needs to be scrapped altogether, they could either amend or drop the legislation entirely. After hearing this clarification, Boutestein changed her mind and decided to support the motion.

In response to a question from Councillor Giffin, Goodeve also made it clear that even is this legislation is approved by council as written, it does not necessarily mean that a cannabis dispensary will open in Morinville because a private business would still have to go through the arduous application and permitting process. Goodeve pointed to ‘Adult Entertainment’ as another example, which is stipulated in Morinville’s Land Use Bylaw, even though no such business exists in Town.

In closing, Dafoe noted that both the federal and provincial governments have already put down the “nuts and bolts” of the legislation out there and that “we need to be prepared.”

After some brief clarifying questions from council, the motion passed unanimously.

The amendments to the LUB will now go to a public hearing before Second, and Third Reading can be heard. That Public Hearing will likely take place in early April.

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  1. One of the requirements for a retailers AGLC application is to have a site floor plan for the operating location, and a plot plan showing neighboring businesses and other buildings. The applicant does not need a lease, but requires a “signed offer to lease”. This is tough enough to work around, hoping the property isn’t leased to someone else before AGLC takes 2-4 months to review and accept or reject an application. If that happens the applicant has to start all over again with a new location, a new offer, along with new floor and plot plans. Understanding clearly where one can offer to lease to get this process started now becomes critical.

    Once the application is “deemed eligible” then the applicant must provide an executed copy of the lease agreement, an approved development permit, a city business license or written permission of the municipality, and fire approval/right to occupy documentation. Then and only then will the applicant receive the license to sell (and purchase wholesale from AGLC) recreational cannabis.

    The applicant will also have to complete all required modifications to the operating location; Secure storage rooms have a particular standard, video surveillance requirements far exceed what you would find in your average local retailer in both coverage and storage/retention capacity, and an alarm system that also exceeds what one would find in most smaller retail operations.

    If Council were to wait “Until Legalization” to implement bylaws (or to issue business licenses) then the whole process stalls “Until Legalization”. Local business folks would be six months behind some of our neighboring communities in setting up and opening shop, during which time, their prospective customers would be spending their purchasing dollars in those neighboring communities.

    Given the fact that AGLC is the only legal wholesaler for cannabis in Alberta, and that they are a Government organization, it is highly unlikely that they will be wholesaling any cannabis prior to legalization. This will keep our streets from being prematurely flooded with legal recreational cannabis.

    There needs to me a method whereby business entities can make some if not most of their preparations between being “Deemed Eligible” and day one of legalization so that the business infrastructure is in place to support ordering wholesale product on day one of legalization.


    Thomas (yes I’m one of THOSE guys) Kirsop

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