Growth in pot shop numbers sparks concern

Concern over shops which are operating without a business license that allows them to sell marijuana

Pot shops are sprouting up like weeds around Vernon.

“We have so many in town now. It seems like they’ve doubled or tripled,” said Coun. Dalvir Nahal, who is concerned about how to regulate the growing number of marijuana dispensaries. “There’s nobody regulating them.”

Vernon planner Kim Flick says none of the shops are operating with a business license that allows them to sell marijuana, since it is currently illegal.

“Do we fine them for operating without a business license,” Coun. Catherine Lord questions.

Regulation continues to be difficult due to the lack of direction from Ottawa.

“We do not enforce it, the RCMP does,” said Will Pearce, Vernon’s chief administrative officer. “The RCMP’s role is to enforce the criminal code in controlled substances.

“We are waiting to have a clearer picture from the federal government.”

A deadline of July 1, 2018 has been set for recreational pot sales to become legal, amid warnings from police that it’s not enough time to prepare.

In the meantime, RCMP are finding it difficult to enforce the laws.

“Some municipalities do periodic crackdowns on the direct sale of medical marijuana,” said Peace. “But it doesn’t appear the RCMP are getting much support from Crown counsel.”

“At this point in time, it’s a little bit chaotic,” said Pearce. “Right now they are sort of operating in a framework that really has no rules.”

Nahal is not against the use of medicinal marijuana, and admits she uses oil for her health challenges. But she doesn’t want things to get out of hand.

“We’ve been put between a rock and a hard place,” she said, adding that perhaps they could be fined and the money put towards charity or other causes.

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