In this Feb. 20, 2015 photo, Alaska Cannabis Club CEO Charlo Greene prepares to roll a joint at the medical marijuana dispensary in Anchorage, Alaska. (Mark Thiessen | Associated Press File)

Hope council to mull over cannabis concerns next week

Majority who answered cannabis survey in favour of bringing shops to Hope, with regulations

Hope residents seem to be in favour of legalized, non-medical cannabis sellers setting up shop in town — if a survey that 647 people answered is any indication.

The District of Hope mailed surveys out on the topic last year, to get a sense of how the community feels about non-medical cannabis operations, licensing and regulations. In total, they mailed out just under 3,000 surveys to homes and businesses that allow flyers.

Now, district staff has collated the results and is presenting the findings to council in a committee of the whole meeting on Nov. 4.

The report includes a breakdown of the answers given, including a lengthy list of anonymous, written-in answers.

For the first question, ‘should Hope allow the sale of non-medical cannabis in its community?’, 410 said yes and 188 said no.

There were provisos written in by many respondents, including “the product will be here anyway,” “with strict controls,” and “health concerns.”

“News flash,” one person wrote. “They have been selling pot in Hope for years. It all started in the ’60s when the draft dodgers moved to the spire across the Fraser Bridge and never stopped.”

The survey also asked questions about the number of privately owned retail stores that should be allowed, proximity to schools, parks and child care centres, and operational restrictions.

There were also questions on the consumption of cannabis. Respondents were pretty evenly split on allowing cannabis to be smoked at outdoor concerts and festivals. But when asked if it should be banned completely, or relegated to a designated area similar to drinking, the majority preferred the latter.

On the subject of home-growing, 304 people said it should allowed inside your home, 351 said inside a shed, 390 said inside a greenhouse, and 330 said inside a garage.

Concerns about home grown non-medical cannabis include odor (296), crime (264), access for minors (326), and mold (280).

Of those who don’t support non-medical cannabis, there were those who said Hope should remain unique in not throwing open the doors to dispensaries.

“We have enough problems with homeless crime and alcohol without adding cannabis to it,” one comment reads. “Although the government has legalized it Hope should stand strong and oppose it.”

Of those who answered the survey, 256 said they strongly support legalization of cannabis for non-medical use in Canada, and 138 said they strongly oppose it.

The majority of respondents own their own home, do not have children in the house, and were over the age of 55. The larger group of respondents was 65-74, with 186 surveys returned.

The cost of the survey was $1,673, the majority of which went to printing costs ($1,145) and the remainder to Canada Post ($527). That cost does not include the “extensive” staff time required to fold the survey to Canada Post, and the data entry for the results. Results that were not clear, or that personally insulted staff and council, were not included in the final report.

The District of Hope council will discuss the full report on Nov. 4, at 6:30 p.m. It was made public on Oct. 30, on the District of Hope website. After that meeting, they will move into a closed special council meeting.

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