Regulatory policy

Breaking Whistler’s authoritarian cannabis retail policy

A lot has been put on the back burner during the pandemic. Some came back; some did not. It is still nearly impossible to buy a new vehicle, with available microchips going mostly, it seems, to models with the highest profit margins. I’m looking at your microphones. Of course, new vehicles will largely disappear completely if China pulls a Putin and starts bombing Taipei, where nearly two-thirds of all chips are produced.

And while I do feel empathy for anyone who’s crazy enough to want to fly somewhere – those who’ve found out their passports are expiring and people who don’t want to buy overpriced pickups and SUVs – I can’t say. ‘t help wondering how the pandemic managed to induce blindness in so many people who failed to understand how a few years of pent-up demand would likely lead to a frenzy of buying and stealing.

Locally, I’m heartened to see that our fearless leaders have finally understood Tiny Town’s place in the legal cannabis landscape. Encouraged, but confused.

The long-delayed RMOW cannabis retail policy was released earlier this month and reported in the past week prick. While it looks like the Byzantine restrictions on legal pot are being adapted to cannabis outlets, it’s unclear if these new requirements, or at least some of them, will apply to cannabis outlets. everything new and/or renewed retail licenses.

Then again, it might just be that dumb old morality rearing its censored head again.

In case you missed it, if there’s a willingness on the part of potential pot shop owners to roll the dice and apply for a license under the new rules, Whistler could have up to five suppliers of fun in the future – one each at Function Junction, Creekside, the Village Proper, Village North and Nesters.

With the exception of Function Junction, the locations make sense. Creekside and the village shops will capture the majority of the tourist trade and Nesters still seems to be where the locals shop, if walking in and out without several chats with friends is any indication.

But this is where the “logical” part begins to evaporate like a smoke ring in the breeze.

A lot of requirements don’t make sense. Some are so back to the future that they’re laughable.

In the first category, the pottery shops must be at least 750 meters apart. Looking at the allowed locations, it’s clear that the only spatial issues this could possibly cause would be locations in the Village and North Village. But the requirement for these is only 150m. a part. Even if the first applicant were to open at the far north end of the village, there would be ample room in the pedestrian-heavy Village North. I don’t know what the point is here.

Ditto the requirement that shops be 300 m away. schools. It conveniently bridges the dichotomy and bleeds in the laughable. Federal regulations legalizing cannabis limit sales to persons 18 years of age and older. The maximum penalty for selling or giving cannabis to minors: 14 years in prison.

Granted, some high school kids would be old enough to walk into a store and buy pot, though I’m pretty sure they’d still rather buy it from their friends. But interestingly, elsewhere in last week’s paper it was reported that a longitudinal study of District 48 school children found that Whistler teens have a more favorable view of drug use than the “norm.” That said, the most widely used “controlled” substance was, of course, alcohol, followed by e-cigarettes and old-fashioned light cigarettes. Further down the list was the pot.

Alcohol and cigarettes have age restrictions of 19 in British Columbia

The result of this is, well, cynicism. And disbelief. When it is physically impossible for a cannabis store to open within 300m. of a school in Whistler – and yes, I know we need another school, I just can’t find out where – and for good measure the Meadow Park Sports Center is bundled with the schools for this ban – even high school kids wonder what lawmakers smoked.

Don’t get me wrong… and don’t burn the lines to prickeditor, I’m not in favor of your kids smoking weed. I am aware of the literature highlighting the adverse effects of cannabis on brain development. But let’s be honest. Any kid who wants to smoke weed knows where to get it. In the same place, probably, they point out alcohol and cigarettes. Same places we’ve had ours before we reached the age of legality. So let’s not add to their growing cynicism about the people running the country by adding meaningless rules. No wonder they think we’re a bunch of bozos. Reefer Madness Redux.

More problematic is the licensing vehicle chosen by the RMOW. Prospective pot suppliers can line up for a Temporary Use Permit (TUP). Good for three years, aspiring cannabis entrepreneurs have been worried about renewing their licenses. With the cost of retail space, the expense of setting up a store, the difficulty in finding staff and the long list of other issues facing retailers in town, not to mention the declining profitability of over-regulated cannabis stores, there is some reluctance to adopt a limited-run license.

And as if those hurdles weren’t enough, apparently, cannabis retail will be a star child of the RMOW’s reconciliation efforts. Announcing the new Cannabis Strategy, his worshipper, Mayor Jack Crompton, said: “We have spent a lot of time researching whether cannabis retail can be part of delivering on our Official Community Plan Policy which asks the RMOW to explore opportunities to incorporate Squamish Nation and Lil’wat Nation own and operate businesses into the local business economy. I hope and expect that anyone seriously considering applying to retail cannabis in Whistler will look to the Lil’wat or the Squamish as business partners.

Hence my curiosity. Is this “expectation” now a key part of Whistler’s overall business landscape? Just cannabis? Cannabis more…? Given these comments and the plan to consolidate all TUP pot requests and make the decisions at the same time, it’s pretty clear that those who don’t find suitable business partners will likely see their plans go up in smoke.

There are many reasons why legal cannabis has failed to penetrate the black market significantly. High prices, less power and judgmental restrictions all conspire to occupy old supply chains. I don’t know what hurdles social engineering might add to those hurdles, but I guess we’ll see.