The Kootenays need polices to change so we can celebrate our culture and promote our region.
When Brenton Raby moved into the former site of the Old Holy Smoke Culture Shop in Nelson, B.C., he knew he was stepping into history.
Located on Hendryx Street, Holy Smoke was the home of the early grassroots cannabis activism movement in Nelson. A combination of head shop, hangout and dispensary, the house on the hill was a well-known destination for locals and travellers — and sometimes, the police, who raided the premises from time to time. Benton was not involved in those earlier days, but now he’s focused on bringing that legacy back to life in his new café — a shop that celebrates B.C. bud’s place in history in the post-prohibition era of Canadian cannabis.
“My cafe will be new, modern and will not sell cannabis,” he says. But it’s still not legal — his plans to open a lounge, where consumers can vape and smoke in indoor comfort, are stymied by provincial anti-smoking laws.
At one point during its illustrious past, the city tried a few different strategies to shut down Holy Smoke. So it was notable when Nelson city council and the Kootenay regional district voted on Jan. 16 to support an exemption of section 37 of the B.C. Cannabis Control Regulation, which would open the door for cannabis events, farm tours and possibly lounges in the region.
The motion cites B.C. bud’s role in Canadian history and culture, saying, “…in British Columbia, and specifically in the Kootenay region, there is a historical legacy of cannabis cultivation and a clear acknowledgment that the cannabis industry is a pillar of our regional economy.”
“Therefore be it resolved that the Union of B.C. Municipalities work with the provincial government to remove section 37 from the B.C. Cannabis regulation, which will remove a significant barrier to the success of the cannabis industry in British Columbia.”
The motion will go to the Association of Kootenay and Boundary Local Governments (AKBLG), which, if passed, will go to the Union of B.C. Municipalities.
Nelson and the Kootenays councils and activists aren’t the only B.C. communities hoping for an exemption. Earlier this month, the owners of the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club received similar support from council — a motion that shows they’re willing to help keep the compassion club open, even if it doesn’t meet provincial regulations.
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