At first glance, a petition asking for limits on cannabis shops in Summerland looks like a good idea.
The petition, which was circulated starting last week, asks for some changes to Summerland’s bylaw, including keeping cannabis retail stores outlets out of Summerland’s downtown core, restricting the number of licenses issued in the community and imposing a distance of at least 750 metres between the stores.
Considering that there are two schools close to the downtown area, as well as a public library, the arts centre and a park which are all frequented by children and teens, it makes sense to put some distance between cannabis stores and youths.
However, increasing regulations may not be the best approach to dealing with cannabis retail stores.
The distance between stores would limit the number of cannabis retail stores in Summerland to two, since the only areas where the stores are allowed are at Summerfair Shopping Centre and in the downtown.
Prohibiting cannabis shops from the downtown area would mean only one cannabis store could exist in Summerland.
More importantly, there is already a process in place before licenses are granted, including a time for feedback from the public.
And while some communities have chosen to set limits on the number of cannabis retail licenses issued, Summerland has chosen not to impose such a restriction, instead letting the market dictate how many stores the community will have.
This is the same approach as is taken with other businesses and services in the community.
The number of dentists, grocery stores, gas stations, financial planners or churches is determined by the demand within the community, not by a quota system. The idea of capping in these cases would seem ludicrous.
Still, the concerns raised in the petition about retail cannabis sales deserve to be addressed and discussed.
It has been less than seven months since recreational cannabis was legalized in Canada, and there will be a time of adjustment as lawmakers are still working through how to control and regulate this substance.
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