A Langley Township proposal would give municipalities input into advertising rules for legal marijuana. File photo

Marijuana legal, but little difference on ground yet

No legal pot stores operating in Abbotsford while staff works on new rules

Marijuana might be legal today across the country, but residents of Abbotsford and other Lower Mainland municipalities won’t be seeing much difference on the ground.

The only store licensed to sell recreational marijuana is located in Kamloops. Other municipalities, including Abbotsford, have been working to update their own bylaws, while the province processes and vets more than 100 applications from would-be store operators.

Cities can regulate – and ban – marijuana sales within their own boundaries.

City staff are putting together options for Abbotsford’s new council to vote on following this Saturday’s election. It seems likely that council will decide to allow recreational marijuana stores, albeit with limits on the proximity to schools and other facilities; only three of 24 council and mayor candidates have come out opposed to legal pot sales. A dozen candidates said they support legal sales in responses to a News questionnaire, with the remaining “neutral” on the issue.

Around three-quarters of people who responded to a city survey this year said marijuana stores should be legal. Medical marijuana dispensaries remain prohibited by the city’s bylaws.

The city has already tweaked its smoking regulation bylaw to treat marijuana use like cigarettes. That means that bylaw officers will be able to issue tickets to those smoking – or vaping – marijuana in public places like parks and on sidewalks.

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