The future of retail cannabis stores in the District of Kent is still up in the air after the public hearing Monday (July 22), when council decided to send the bylaw back for more amendments.
Five people showed up to the public hearing and only two spoke about the proposed bylaws, which would allow for one government-run cannabis store in the Agassiz townsite.
Downtown Agassiz resident Benny Wolfe spoke at length about the dangers recreational cannabis for young adults, drawing parallels between underage youth who ask older friends to purchase alcohol for them and underage youth who may do the same with pot.
"If a young person wants alcohol, all they got to do is go to another person, 19 years old and up … If you think the government cannabis stores will prevent minors from getting cannabis" you're mistaken. His concern is for young people in their "experimental stage."
— Grace Kennedy (@gracekenn) July 23, 2019
“You need to show leadership and say no to cannabis stores in this community and say no to recreational drug use,” Wolfe told council.
Ian Coutu also spoke before council, but shared his thoughts from the perspective of a pharmacist’s assistant who often sees people prescribed drugs like Sativex, an expensive, cannabis-based drug prescribed to people dealing with multiple sclerosis.
“Issues that I see are mostly with access to medications,” Coutu said. “We have seen cases where people are prescribed things like Sativex … and I think in cases where somebody needs something for sudden onset, it would be beneficial both to our tax dollars and their health to have something nearby” where they can buy cannabis instead.
Coutu also added that “we see a lot of people driving specifically through Agassiz, all the way to Harrison, and I’m going to bet they’d stop if they knew a place was here.”
Following the public hearing, council was set to make a decision on the zoning and business licence bylaws, which would allow one retail cannabis store in the district if it was located in the far east or far west portions of the townsite — so it was far enough away from the high school — and if it restricted its hours to between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. The business would also pay significant licensing fees.
However, Coun. Duane Post requested that staff amend the bylaw so the retail store would only be allowed in the east end of the townsite.
This required that council rescind second reading of the zoning bylaw. Both the zoning bylaw and the business licence bylaw will come back to council for final approval in the future.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated Ian Coutu’s job title. The change has been made online and we regret the error.