Here is a topic that some residents and candidates may feel uncomfortable introducing and speaking about.
The reality is, our present federal government has pledged to legalize the cannabis and cannabis products for non-medical usage.
There is a large segment of our population who is okay with marijuana and cannabis products. There is a large segment of our population who is not okay with marijuana and cannabis products.
I have asked several police officers about the types of disturbances to which they are called. It was answered unanimously that by and large, the largest number of complaints are related to disturbances involving alcohol and drunken rowdiness. Disturbances related to cannabis usage were not reported as a significant portion of complaints. That said, since cannabis is presently a black market substance, it is sometimes held and sold by criminals who may even have access to guns and other weapons. Public safety is a valid concern.
So, love it or hate it, a commitment has been made by our federal government to legalize cannabis.
Vancouver is already struggling to deal with zoning issues around medical marijuana “pot dispensaries”.
It is mature and prudent to prepare for the legalization of cannabis by beginning discussions now – before it is legalized federally – so that we are prepared in our municipality to immediately enact zoning by-laws and regulations that ensure the inevitable new “pot shops” are going to be in locations that are safe and out of harm’s way for our youth. As well, we will want to ensure that legal cannabis vendors do not make it uncomfortable for non-users of cannabis to visit common public areas such as Downtown Dartmouth and other logical locations where such vendors may exist.