No Buffer Zone for Joe's Place


Robert Thomas

In a last ditch effort, the director of a well known youth centre asked Council to create a buffer zone around Joe's Place but was turned down.

Speaking before Moose Jaw City Council in regards to Bylaw 5563 Zoning Amendment 2018(4) Joe Dueck, Director of Joe's Place, requested the youth centre be added as a "sensitive use area" when it came to where the City will allow cannabis retailers to set up shop.

“We are very concerned about a cannabis retailer opening up close to Joe's Place,” he said.

Dueck related how Joe's Place was a chemical free centre where youth are “not permitted under the effects of drugs or alcohol” and, as such, since it was the largest weekend gathering place for youth in Moose Jaw, it should be considered a sensitive use area.

He also spoke about research involving adolescents and the negative effects cannabis had upon developing brains. Additionally, some youth who attended the centre had previous problems with drugs and alcohol and if a retailer set up shop nearby it could yield negative consequences for them

“Proximity does make a difference,” Dueck said, quoting an Amsterdam study previously mentioned in a MJ Independent article. That study found that the closer a youth lived to a coffee house selling cannabis the higher the rate of cannabis use.

SEE: Cannabis Zoning Comes with a Few Hiccups

A second study and an interview in the story also mentioned youth centres and schools as recommended locations to create a buffer zone around.

Dueck stated how the number one goal for legalization was “to keep it out of the hands of just seems that goal has been lost when it comes to actual zoning.”

“Why we as a city would want have a cannabis shop so close to Moose Jaw's largest gathering place for youth on weekends?” he asked.

Councillor Chris Warren spoke about the challenges and difficulties formulating the actual bylaw but the Saskatchewan Cannabis Framework helped prevent youth from acquiring cannabis from legal retailers.

“Looking at the Saskatchewan Cannabis Framework that put things in place to limit and restrict youth access to cannabis; it’s a pretty rigorous framework" Coun Warren stated.

He spoke about the large amount of institutional separation and the fact many churches had youth groups.

“I would wonder when would someone would want to draw the line where youth frequent?” he asked, adding that it was about the balance of “protecting the youth and not limiting the business.”

The entire issue of actually locating where cannabis retailers may set up their shops was left up to individual municipalities according to the minister in charge.

In a written statement to MJ Independent, the Honourable Gene Makowsky, Minister Responsible for Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA) wrote “Provincial legislation does not restrict the location of cannabis retail stores within communities. Each municipality has the authority to create bylaws to address any land concerns, including proximity to schools and other areas frequented by youth, based on the specific needs of the community. This allows the community make the decisions about the appropriate land use restrictions that best suit the particular landscape and composition of each community.”

Despite Dueck’s efforts to have the bylaw amended it passed unanimously in a 5 – 0 vote. Mayor Fraser Tolmie was not in attendance and one councillor position is vacant with the resignation of Don Mitchell.