Regina marijuana bylaws delayed another month

Councillor Bob Hawkins was the lone vote against the bylaws on Monday

Regina City Council has once again delayed its decision on where marijuana dispensaries can open in the city.

Councillors voted at Monday’s city council meeting on a set of bylaws that would regulate where the city’s six licensed pot shops will be allowed to operate in Regina.

They agreed stores could set up downtown, in the Warehouse District, in shopping centres and along major roadways, but cannot be located beside day cares, schools or other areas that children frequent. Council decided the buffer zone would be one block, except in the downtown core where there will be no buffers.

Councillors agreed to the plan last month, except for Councillor Bob Hawkins who opposed the bylaws again on Monday.

Hawkins has repeatedly raised the concern of protecting minors from illicit drug use and wants a two block buffer instead of one to keep marijuana out of the hands of youth.

“I think with the legalization of marijuana we are taking a step toward normalizing drug-taking in our society, and I think that’s very problematic,” said Hawkins, the lone vote against the regulations.

Hawkins said he believes having weed readily available to kids will create dependencies and will become a gateway drug. He also raised concerns about the negative effect weed has on young people’s brain development and mental capacity.

“I don’t feel this bylaw goes far enough in protecting our young people from marijuana use at a time when they are most vulnerable,” he said.

“I believe that we have put commerce before kids.”

Hawkins refused to vote in favour of the bylaw in second reading. To pass the bylaw council needs a unanimous vote through three readings. The issue will now be delayed until the August city council meeting.