Regina council decides to start treating cannabis stores like any other business

·2 min read
The City of Regina has changed its zoning rules around cannabis dispensaries.  (Rafferty Baker/CBC - image credit)
The City of Regina has changed its zoning rules around cannabis dispensaries. (Rafferty Baker/CBC - image credit)

It's been three years since cannabis was legalized in Canada and the Regina city council says it is ready to start treating pot stores like any other retail business, with a few exceptions.

Council voted on Wednesday to approve a report that will "significantly improve" the city's cannabis retail regulations, according to city staff.

The decision comes despite opposition from existing cannabis retailers — who are concerned about over-saturating the market — and the city's school boards.

"Do I want to pot shop on every corner? No. Will this allow this? Absolutely not," said Coun. Andrew Stevens of Ward 3.

Lowering post-legalization restrictions

To understand how the City of Regina got to this point, it's best to look back at how it prepared for legalization.

The City of Regina, like many other municipalities across Canada, initially took a cautious approach to federal legalization in 2018.

It limited the number of zones that cannabis stores would be allowed to operate in to six and prohibited stores from opening within 182.8 metres of other cannabis stores and schools.

The goal at the time was to keep stores away from areas frequented by children.

New rules

But now, more than three years later, the rules are about to be torched to make way for new regulations.

The number of zones where cannabis stores can operate has now been increased to 13 which is how any other retail business is treated, including pubs that sell liquor.

The required distance of separation between stores has also been lowered from 182.8 metres to just 60 metres.

That's despite the continued objection from school boards, who wanted the 182.8 metre restriction to remain in place.

LISTEN| Looking back at legalization 3 years later

That was wholeheartedly rejected in a motion by Stevens, who said legalization is here to stay and that the city needs to act like it.

"This is a remnant of an ill-conceived notion of Reefer Madness and that there would be harm associated with the presence of a dispensary that is not legally even allowed to advertise anything," Stevens said.

"I think we need to get past the stigma of cannabis."

The change to the minimum space between stores also brings the City of Regina's zoning bylaw on cannabis stores in line with the rules in the City of Saskatoon.

However, Saskatoon still requires a 160 metres distance between a cannabis dispensary and schools.

In addition to reducing the distance rules, the city will also now be able to evaluate proposed cannabis stores that are within 60 metres of another store through a discretionary use application.

That means applications can now be judged on a case-by-case basis.

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