British Columbia

Prince Rupert wants to ban all pot shops until 2018

Prince Rupert's mayor and council are hoping to ban all marijuana shops from the city until January 1, 2018.

'People in this community don't want these popping up all over the place'

A marijuana dispensary is closed after Toronto police raid pot shops in the city. Across Canada, communities have taken differing approaches to the proliferation of commercial marijuana storefronts. (Rebecca Silverstone/CBC)

Prince Rupert's mayor and council are hoping to ban all marijuana shops from the city until January 1, 2018.

"This gives us the opportunity to take our time, research what other communities are doing, figure out what the rules are going to be federally," Mayor Lee Brain told CBC Daybreak North host Carolina de Ryk.

"And once it becomes legalized, then we'll be able to make rules around that."

The proposed bylaw would explicitly prevent any business from the commercial production, distribution or sale of marijuana within city limits.

Medicinal marijuana not affected

Medical marijuana won't be affected by the proposed bylaw. (CBC)

According to a city spokesperson, the new rules wouldn't affect licensed users of medicinal marijuana or clinics helping licensed users access medicinal marijuana, as long as the drug was not being sold on site.

Terry Roycroft, president of the Medicinal Cannabis Resource Centre, said the new bylaw wouldn't stop his plans to open up an office in Prince Rupert.

"That really doesn't impact our business," he said. "We deal specifically with the patients who are needing cannabis for any medical treatments that they do." 

Roycroft said he was more surprised by cities that are allowing commercial operations to set up before federal rules come into place.

Raids, fines and crackdowns

Communities across Canada have struggled with the proliferation of marijuana-based businesses ahead of the federal government tabling any laws about legalizing and regulating the drug.

In Vancouver, officials have turned to bylaws and business licences to regulate the industry, handing out fines to those who don't comply.

The Wealth Shop on West 10th Avenue is the first Vancouver pot shop to be granted a business licence. (David Horemans/CBC)

In Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal police have cracked down on marijuana storefronts in an attempt to discourage them from setting up in the first place.

Prince Rupert hasn't faced those problems yet, but Brain hopes explicitly banning commercial marijuana from the city will prevent future problems. 

"If people set up a shop now where there's no real rules and then it becomes legal, they have the risk of being grandfathered in," he said. "Then we have no control."

"I'm certain that people in this community don't want these popping up all over the place."

A public hearing on the ban is scheduled for January 23.

With files from George Baker and Meera Bains.

For more stories from Prince Rupert and northern British Columbia, join the CBC Daybreak North community on Facebook.