by Jessica Wallace
Kamloops This Week

The Thompson-Nicola Regional District chair said the board is “exercising an abundance of caution” with its intention to ban retail recreational marijuana sales in rural areas in advance of legalization.

“This is the safest way to proceed so we can have some control,” TNRD board chair John Ranta told KTW.

At its Thursday meeting, the board paved the way for the ban by passing two readings of an amendment to its zoning bylaw. The amendment would exclude cannabis as a retail commercial use and direct ventures to municipalities.

Ranta said the ban aims to prevent shops from opening before rules have been set out by the province, allowing the opportunity for them to be grandfathered in. He likened it to medical marijuana facilities.

“We don’t want a similar situation of uncontrolled retail sale of marijuana in the region,” Ranta said.

He noted the situation will likely change once rules are clarified in the future. But the first step, he said, is an outright ban.

“Would you want unregulated sale of alcohol in rural areas?” he asked.

The zoning bylaw amendment will head to a public hearing before it goes to a final reading.

The federal government intends to have marijuana legalized by the end of summer. The provincial government has said recreational marijuana will be sold in government and private stores, with municipalities and regional districts having the option of not allowing such sales.