Lee Goodwin totes a marijuana flag at a 4/20 rally held at Rotary Peace Park in 2016. Goodwin is questioning why a marijuana dispensary must be located in the industrial area, when tobacco and alcohol are sold on Main Street. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)

Delegate blunt about proposed location of cannabis retail stores

‘Marijuana has had a stigma of being a bad thing’

You can buy alcohol and tobacco on Main Street in Whitehorse — Lee Goodwin wants to know why, then, a government-run cannabis retail location might be tucked away in the city’s industrial end.

“I’ve spoken to a lot of people in the last couple days, this has become a major issue,” Goodwin told city council this week.

“Marijuana has had a stigma of being a bad thing.”

Goodwin appeared before Whitehorse City Council Jan. 15 after city administration recommended last week that cannabis sales be restricted to the Marwell neighbourhood in Whitehorse.

A zoning amendment is being brought forward to authorize sales under “retail services, restricted.” The bylaw proposes changes to existing definitions to exclude that use from other retail locations.

Council passed first reading of that bylaw.

Goodwin, who uses cannabis medically, has a licence to grow for himself and others, though he isn’t actively growing because he doesn’t have a facility.

He said Marwell isn’t conveniently located for many in Whitehorse.

“I and a lot of people would ask you to reconsider that,” he said, adding that while he thinks a government location or compound in Marwell makes sense, limited storefront activity does not.

Councillor Betty Irwin said she too would be disappointed to see the sale of cannabis restricted to one location. She said she would rather have seen it treated the same as other restricted products such as alcohol and tobacco.

One way it will be treated similarly is when it comes to rental units.

Under the proposed rules, landlords may restrict smoking at rental properties, the same way they do with cigarettes.

Yukon Housing said it doesn’t allow smoking in units on the Yukon Housing Corporation lease. Cannabis will be included under its current smoke-free policy.

According to the Yukon Department of Community Services, which is responsible for the Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, references to “smoking” in tenancy agreements would likely be interpreted to include the smoking of cannabis once it is legal.

“Though our office would not likely uphold an outright restriction on consumption of cannabis, limitations on smoking within a tenancy agreement, similar to that of cigarettes would likely be upheld,” spokesperson Bonnie Venton Ross said in an email.

“The exception to this would be an allowance for medical consumption which would be governed by the Yukon Human Rights Act.”

Once the territory’s cannabis laws are passed, the residential tenancies office will be releasing policy on cannabis “to give landlords and tenants clarity and finality on the issue,” she said.

A public hearing on the city’s proposed bylaw change will be held during council’s Feb. 12 meeting, which begins at 5:30 p.m.

Contact Amy Kenny at amy.kenny@yukon-news.com

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