Town reverses decision on medical cannabis exemption

Town reverses decision on medical cannabis exemption


By Lyonel Doherty

Oliver Chronicle

Medical cannabis users are no longer exempt from the Town of Oliver’s Smoke Free Bylaw.

On Monday, council voted to reverse a previous decision to exempt medicinal marijuana patients from prohibitions in the new bylaw.

The only councillor to oppose the reversal was Larry Schwartzenberger, who was steadfast in his view that medical cannabis users should not be prohibited from taking their medicine in public places.

“I think it is a Charter right,” he said, noting it would be wrong to ticket these people or ask them to leave a public space or event.

Schwartzenberger noted that most medical cannabis users don’t smoke it but take it orally.

“Just because we add some compassion to the bylaw doesn’t make it wrong (just different).”

But Chief Administrative Officer Cathy Cowan pointed out that BC legislation will prohibit cannabis to be smoked in places that children frequent, such as parks, playgrounds and recreational areas. She noted there will not be a provincial exemption for medical cannabis users. Therefore, Cowan suggested removing the exemption from the bylaw so that it is consistent with other municipalities and the provincial rule.

“Our bylaw would not be valid if adopted with that (exemption) in it,” she said.

Town staff pointed out that allowing the exemption would create a bylaw that does not protect people from second-hand smoke. They also noted that enforcing the bylaw would be a challenge when one group is excluded.

Corporate Officer Diane Vaykovich said Interior Health advises that Washington State found that the number of medical licences after legalization reduced by 80 per cent. “It is likely British Columbia will see similar numbers,” she said.

Oliver Mayor Ron Hovanes said he views the bylaw as literally smoke free. If medical cannabis users are allowed to light up in public places, they are sharing that smoke.

Not only that, there is “higher legislation that we cannot supersede,” he said.

Councillor Dave Mattes said he supports the exemption but acknowledged that Oliver would be in contravention of a higher authority if it excluded medical cannabis users from the prohibition.

“I think it will be challenged down the road, but until that happens we have to follow provincial laws.”

Local resident G. Isreal told council that he smoked three and a half packs of cigarettes a day for 22 years.

“It pains me to smell it on children, so I would be apprehensive to let my child around cannabis.”

Isreal said if the town exempts medical cannabis users, it must make an exemption for others, too. Otherwise, conflicts will arise, he noted.

The bylaw is slated for adoption on July 9.


  1. This will come back to bite us big time, ie. legal eagles and health concerns for starters. If “gummy bears” and “cookies” help a person living without debilitating pain with doctor’s recommendation then this is what will need to be considered in making sense out of this fiasco.

  2. The first patient barred from, or charged with, using medicinal cannabis could take this to court and win without a doubt; it is a clear violation of an individuals human rights to prevent them from using a medicinal treatment to improve their health and well-being.

    The acceptance of the false information that cannabis is detrimental to human health was institutionalized into society many decades ago and unfortunately it takes even longer to unlearn bad information than it does too learn valid information.

    Cannabinoids have been ignored as potent medicines due to the pharmaceutical industry’s failure to successfully isolate and synthesize any beneficial individual cannabinoid compounds; They have ignored the synergy and entourage effects of the complex of over 100 Cannabinoids and 100s of terpenes in the Cannabis plant due to the industry wide fixation on the current ‘Isolate, target, Patent for Profit’, system of pharmaceutical research.

    There is a Pervasive, Institutionalized, Negative Bias against all forms of Cannabis Use that has existed for almost a century and is still rampant in virtually all institutions that form the structure of our society and those who populate those agencies are institutionalized to think ideologically and only in terms of addiction and harm reduction, crime and punishment, Patent and Profit…; In the case of Cannabis they are completely ignoring the abundance of positive heath benefits that the various forms of Whole Plant Cannabinoid Therapy could provide a multitude of individuals, all because it conflicts with established ideological mentality, and/or, it does not fit the current ‘patent and profit’ mandate of pharmaceutical research and production, and marketing.

    Our Medical Institutions, and the professionals within them that make up part of our society, have been either complicit, or at the very least, had blind faith in the claims of the Pharmaceutical industry while simultaneously ignoring the abundance of scientific studies, and evidence, indicating Cannabinoids have multiple health care applications from treating depression, to curing Cancer (Cannabinoids kill cancer cells via apoptosis and anti-angiogenesis. Know since 1974), to preventing and treating Alzheimer’s.

    Our institutions ignore the positives of medicinal cannabis and continue to perpetuate the same false narrative that ‘Cannabis is inherently dangerous’ with essentially no valid foundation in scientific reality; I believe this occurs due to ‘Institutionalized bias’ and for our national institutions to acknowledge the factual reality of the benefits of Cannabinoid Therapy would require all of our medical professions to admit that Cannabis works as a treatment for many Human Ailments; They would also have to admit they do not know how it works AND that, as a civilized developed society, we should have been studying Cannabinoids for at least 5 decades, if not more, and that not only our medical profession, but society as a whole, has completely failed on the issue of cannabis and Public Health.

    Until our Governments, Our Public Institutions, Our Medical professionals and the institutions they represent, Our Law Enforcement Agencies, and society in general, abandon the decades of misinformation and misunderstanding on how the phytocannabinoids in the cannabis plant interact with the Human Endocannabinoid System, we will continue to spend more resources on unnecessary legislation and continued delays instead of implementing proper legislation providing access to the vast medicinal potential of this very safe and effective medicinal plant and health supplement.

  3. I agree with no exemption.

    Saying it will be taken down in court I would agree if smoking it were the only method of consuming it. However smoking it is usually the prefer method for some that are existing smokers. However the majority of people more than likely would prefer to consume it in other methods that are more convenient. Most do prefer to consume it orally in any number of forms that do not require smoking it. So an argument in court would have to prove that the other methods are more restrictive then smoking it and that smoking it is the least impact and restrictive method for the general public.

    I have read no evidence or had any experience that would suggest that smoking it is has the least impact for the public vs other methods of consumption. So if there are multiple other ways of delivery the least desirable for the public is not going to be over turned in court. The court is not impacting the right of a person to medically access their cannabis merely limiting its impact to those not taking it themselves around that individual.

    I would also go on to project that most will to some degree grow and create their own edibles. It’s cheaper and you have a wider variety of product to choose from. Especially if edibles cannot be created or sold in the new cannabis stores then it will be made at home. The government should have taken a more detailed look at the progress of liquor laws and started there. For many years it was illegal to brew your own beer at home for your own consumption and only within the last few decades has that changed. Everyone knew this was logical step in brewing, but it was resisted primarily as a loss of brewing control and tax revenue. Today we see very little impact on either of those by hobby brewers, craft brewers, and or those that still go to a traditional liquor store. All have become part of the liquor landscape and have their place. So in regards to cannabis should not the same type of laws apply so that edibles can be sold and other less pervasive methods be given to the public for consumption through store fronts.


For security, use of Google's reCAPTCHA service is required which is subject to the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

I agree to these terms.