Kelowna’s road to pot 

Published on October 17, 2018 by David Trifunov

Sure, the drive from Kelowna to Kamloops is only about two hours — and zipping along the information superhighway is immediate —  but the road to buying pot legally in B.C. seems unnecessarily bumpy to Mark Conlin.

The Kelowna-based marijuana advocate and lobbyist said governments are in danger of missing a tremendous opportunity surrounding legalization.

“It will play out as it plays out,” Conlin said. “(But) the tighter they squeeze this … the less likely they’re going to get a handle on it.”

As of Oct. 17, there are only two ways to buy recreational pot in Kelowna: by driving to the one and only BC Cannabis Store in Kamloops, or ordering it online from the government-owned retailer.

Same old, same old

Conlin said that attitude surrounding pot has been the same since Canadians started controlling marijuana in 1923.

“This is something that the cannabis community has lived with for almost a century,” said Conlin, who started using cannabis medically due to debilitating arthritis.

“They’ve already thrown everything they can at us.”

Kelowna’s city council has established a winding, officious process for getting a business license, finding a storefront, and opening your doors so you can expand some minds.

“We will start receiving applications to rezone properties for retail cannabis sales on Oct. 1 – a process that typically takes 4-6 months,” the City of Kelowna’s website says.

If a prospective business owner is ready, hits all the targets and completes all the paperwork, the earliest she could open is late February 2019. And, more likely, it will be closer to May.

Conlin, a former letter carrier, said too many rules and regulations threaten to blow up the whole process if politicians and bureaucrats don’t lose their historical hangups.

“There still seems to be some prohibition stigma attached to this,” Conlin said.

He’d like to see national standards, and predicts the cannabis framework will be changed by the courts more than politicians.

Not that it’s all negative, Conlin said.

Want to own a joint?

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth told reporters on the eve of legalization that the province had received 173 applications to open pot shops.

He also said 35 applications are in the advanced stage.

Where those outlets will be located, and when they will open, remains a government secret, however.

Still, the whole thing has left people like Conlin optimistic. “It is, in fact, a step forward.”