Cannabis Shops and Zoning

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.

5 comments on “Cannabis Shops and Zoning”

  1. Shirley Hiltz Reply

    I was recently in Amsterdam where marijuana is legal. It is a place I will never visit again as the smell of this drug was in the air everywhere. It was terrible. I would not want to see Dartmouth brought to this state.

    • admin Reply

      Hi Shirley,

      Thanks for your comment. This is precisely why we need to begin conversations sooner, rather than later, to discuss municipal zoning laws to make certain there is not a “free for all” once our federal government legalizes the substance. Several people who are friendly to cannabis stated the exact same thing as yourself. We need to have a mature discussion to be able to come to fair rules regarding cannabis governance. Additionally, I would like to work with the provincial government to open discussions regarding the possibility of having higher tax rates on “smoke-able” forms of cannabis, since it seems very likely that smoking the substance is more harmful to health than eating the substance. Since we have a mostly publicly funded health care system, it seems prudent to steer people away from smoking and towards a more benign method of ingestion.

      • Cathy Reply

        Hi Shirley, I would suggest you didn`t see enough of Amsterdam! My father has lived near Amsterdam for 20 years and I have visited many times. I have never noticed the smell of marijuana when walking in the city, though I don`t spend much time in the more tourist-oriented centre and the red-light district. I don’t smoke it myself, but I understand that under Dutch regulations, cannabis products are sold in controlled amounts in specific kinds of shops. If you do go back, I suggest you visit districts like the historic Jordaan which has many beautiful tree-lined canals, interesting little shops, and museums including the Anne Frank Museum. I also recommend the amazing Museumplein, a lovely open green space ringed by art museums including the Van Gogh museum. Those are some of the areas that don`t have concentrations of the cannabis “coffee shops”, and there is a mind-blowing amount of history and culture there to see.

  2. Dave Reply

    The government MAY legalize it, however it presently is illegal and it appears the police are turning a blind eye to the proliferation of drug shops. I too have visited Amsterdam and, anecdotally, it is the only place I’ve ever been mugged! I myself am a mental health worker and can say that cannabis is far from a benign substance.

    • admin Reply

      I have never visited Amsterdam, though I have indeed been in Europe. I don’t think it is fair to even hint at a connection between being mugged in a foreign country and legalized cannabis. I was nearly mugged (good thing I have fast feet!!) in Toronto by a two men. Cannabis was not legal. So, sparse anecdotes like ours are meaningless in the big picture.

      Again I state, the federal government made a commitment to legalize cannabis. Any – ANY – drug if abused can contribute to pre-existing mental health and physical health issues. Coffee (caffeine), if abused, can wreak havoc on the body and mind. (A friend of mine experienced this.) Alcohol contributes incredibly to dependency and destructive effects in society.

      If you take a non-scientific poll of police officers and ask them how many disturbances are cannabis related versus alcohol related, you’ll see a clear pattern – alcohol is a strong contributing factor, cannabis not much at all. And the only real cannabis related disturbances I have had police officers tell me about have been due to the crime involved – this criminal element will be removed when de-criminalized. There aren’t many alcohol bootleggers left, for example.

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