Editorial: ground rules

Council’s decision to cancel a pot retailer’s business licence this week was the right one

WeeMedical Dispensary Society lost its business licence this week.

Some may be rolling their eyes at council’s decision, remarking to themselves, “Cannabis is about to become legal in a few months! What’s the big deal? Let these businesses get on with it.”

But it is a big deal. As Mayor Bob Simpson pointed out in the council meeting on Tuesday night, WeeMedical knowingly broke laws that are currently in place.

When pot becomes legal this summer, it’s not going to be a free-for-all, anyone sell and buy and grow what they please. Yes, people will be able to smoke it, grow it, and sell it. But in order for individuals and retailers to go about these things legally, they will have to do so in compliance with a framework set out by federal, provincial and municipal governments.

It’s the same with alcohol. Or prescribed medications. These substances are legal, but are you allowed to swig a beer on your drive to work? Or sell your prescribed painkillers to a friend? No. There are rules around what the population can legally do with these substances.

So WeeMedical’s blatant flouting of city bylaws signaled to council that its current employees believe the business should exist outside of legal boundaries.

In a letter to the City of Quesnel, WeeMedical explained that it focuses on the medical benefits of marijuana. That may be perfectly true of their intentions; however, retail establishments are not permitted to sell medical marijuana unless they are a licenced producer under the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations.

WeeMedical never claimed to be licensed in this way. Touting cannabis products for medical purposes was therefore still illegal, no matter how noble the business’ intentions.

And anyway, it’s not about whether they are selling it for recreational use or medical. In a few months, both will be legal, and Quesnel should, and I’m sure will, welcome new proprietors to come in and operate under the new legislation.

The key is how they will operate. Those businesses hoping to sell cannabis products for medical use will still need to have the correct licence to sell under the Medical Purposes Regulations in two months, just as they are required to now. And those selling recreational pot will have their own laws and bylaws to follow.

If retailers want in on what could be a lucrative new industry, they’re going to have to play by the rules.

Melanie Law

Quesnel Cariboo Observer

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