This report from two weeks ago – Council has now passed the bylaw into civic law.
By ROY WOOD
In a quick change of direction, Oliver council has reversed a bylaw provision that would have exempted medical marijuana users from the town’s smoke-free bylaw.
At its June 11 meeting, council amended the bylaw to exempt “individuals who are federally authorized to purchase, possess and consume medical cannabis.”
However, following a report from corporate officer Diane Vaykovich warning that the exemption would likely run afoul of provincial legislation, council voted Monday to delete it from the bylaw.
Vaykovich’s report pointed out that the provincial legislation, Bill 30, prohibits smoking pot in “in places that children frequent, including parks, recreation areas, skating rinks, sports fields, swimming pools and playgrounds.”
There is no exemption for medical marijuana in the bill, which will regulate the possession, use and cultivation of marijuana for recreational purposes.
Chief administrative officer Cathy Cowan pointed out in the report that in order for a bylaw to be valid, it must not conflict with a federal or provincial law.
Councillor Larry Schwartzenberger, who earlier championed the medical use exemption, argued against its elimination. “I think it’s a charter right.”
“Just because we are adding a little compassion (to the bylaw) is different (from other towns), but it doesn’t make it wrong,” he said.
A couple of members of council pointed out that most medical marijuana users take the product in edible or oil form rather than smoking it and they wouldn’t be subject to the bylaw. “It doesn’t prohibit consumption. Just smoking,” said Councillor Dave Mattes
Mayor Ron Hovanes said he sees the bylaw as simply protecting people from smoke of any sort. “If you’re in a splash park, you’re not going to be smoking anything,” he said.
Mattes, Hovanes and Councillor Mo Doerr voted to delete the exemption for medical pot smokers. Schwartzenberger voted against the motion.
The federal government has announced October 17 as the date when non-medical pot consumption becomes legal across the country.