August 16, 2016 - 2:30 PM
PENTICTON - Two members of the gallery at Penticton city council chambers were ejected by the mayor during a special council meeting yesterday to decide the fate of two marijuana dispensaries.
Penticton Mayor Andrew Jakubeit asked a man and a woman to leave council chambers following a string of outbursts, Aug. 15.
The heated moment came as city building and permitting manager Ken Kunka outlined reasons for cancelling the business licenses for dispensing medical marijuana.
“This town is a piece of shit,” the irate man said and could be heard shouting a string of epithets as left the building.
Council heard emotional presentations from business owners Robert Kay of Avitas Pharmaco and Melissa Osiowy of Green Essence, both speaking passionately about the need for their business, and their commitment to their customers.
Kay spoke of his credential as a marijuana grower, producer and user of 15 years, noting his business is about harm reduction and safe access to marijuana. He said he runs a compassion club, not a dispensary, adding he also operated clubs in Kelowna and Vernon. He asked council for a temporary permit until proper city bylaws could be put in place.
His arguments were supported by clinical psychologist Zack Walsh, who told council Kay was “on the right side of history, doing important, valuable work.”
The self-described cannabis researcher said Kay’s operation was “a brave forerunner of what we’re going to see.”
Melissa Osiowy of Green Essence also pleaded with council to allow her operation to continue noting for most of history marijuana has been legal. She said her business provided a safe and sanitary place to access marijuana, and the closure of which would force her clientele back into the streets to buy.
Mayor Andrew Jakubeit expressed sympathy for both operator’s arguments, calling their presentations articulate and well presented.
Kunka said it was time to "turn the clock back to zero” and restart the process, noting the number of businesses dispensing marijuana were on the rise without the city having the legislation to control them.
“We need to move forward together, I’m not sure how we can do it without federal regulations in place. Our hands are tied at this point,” he said.
Council renewed their calls for staff to present a report outlining possible bylaw options for the city to allow the businesses to continue, but in the meantime voted 5-2 to suspend both business licenses. Coun. Tarik Sayeed and Jakubeit were opposed.
Monday's vote echoed that of the July 19 meeting that saw council cancel the business license of Jukka Laurio who owns of the Rush in and Finish Cafe.
“We’re getting a sense of the will of the group, there is some clarity where we’re going. We’re going to try to come up with a solution for our community that is good for everyone,” Jakubeit said.
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