Little can be done about pot dispensaries, according to Mayor Bill McKay, who says they’re not getting resources from the federal government to enforce the law.
Neither is the mayor willing to consider regulating medical marijuana dispensaries locally with business licenses, calling it a stop-gap measure and one that would add legitimacy to the outlets.
“We wouldn’t offer a house of prostitution a business license in Nanaimo, so why would we do this? Both activities are illegal,” he said.
Medical marijuana dispensaries are cropping up in the Harbour City, despite being seen as illegal by the federal government.
Health Canada licenses only six producers in B.C., like Tilray, to sell to registered, medically-prescribed patients and not from storefronts. In Nanaimo, however, there is a growing number of dispensaries selling bud, tinctures, marijuana-infused soda and brownies to people who self-declare a serious medical condition or have notes from medical professionals.
The city doesn’t currently license dispensaries, but neither does it fine them for being without a license it isn’t prepared to grant. The Nanaimo RCMP also hasn’t shut any dispensaries down in the last year. According to RCMP Supt. Mark Fisher, it takes time and resources to investigate and it depends on policing priorities.
“I have never said that they have a free ride or we aren’t going to pursue action against dispensaries,” Fisher said, adding it’s a matter of what evidence is gathered and when.
Nanaimo city council hasn’t yet followed in the footsteps of the City of Vancouver and City of Victoria in considering regulations and business licenses for medical marijuana dispensaries and although the mayor wants to see what happens in Victoria, he isn’t in favor of the model.
“We’ve got dispensaries selling product of absolutely unknown origin to members of our public and City of Vancouver and Victoria is now considering offering them business licenses,” he said.
McKay wants to make an emergency motion to the Union of B.C. Municipalities to urge the federal government to provide resources for Crown counsel and the RCMP, or expedite a Supreme Court challenge to new federal rules governing medical marijuana.
“If the fed government wants us to take them out by enforcement, then give us the resources,” he said.