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City of Penticton says no to marijuana dispensaries

Penticton City Coun. Judy Sentes said she could no longer support an extension of temporary use permits for two marijuana dispensaries in the city because the sale of marijuana continues to be considered illegal by the federal government, prior to voting in council chambers today, July 18, 2017.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/City of Penticton
July 18, 2017 - 7:00 PM

PENTICTON - Concerns over legal issues resulted in Penticton City Council turning thumbs down to an extension of temporary use permits for two marijuana dispensaries in the city.

The matter came back to council today, July 18, to allow city staff to gether more informations for councillors. At the July 4 council meeting, staff recommended that council not renew temporary use permits but councillors wanted more information before deciding.

Anthony Haddad told council staff were concerned about possible liability issues stemming from further support of temporary use extensions. He said the city’s insurance provider could not give a “clear cut answer” about whether it would cover liabilities if the dispensaries were allowed to continue operating.

“It’s uncertain, depending on how the case is brought against the city,” Haddad said.

He said although risk might be low, costs could be high if the city were found liable.

Haddad said staff and legal counsel were not concerned about legal issues being brought against the city by the federal government, stating their only concern was the risk to the public and the liability to the city should council approve a business license for an activity still deemed illegal by federal and provincial regulations.

Haddad recommended offering the two previously permitted dispensaries - Green Essence and Okanagan Cannibinoid Therapy -  a consent order to operate lawfully as a wellness centre.

A wellness centre would be able to offer advice about cannabis, lobby for legalization and sell marijuana-related paraphernalia, but would not be allowed to sell cannabis products.

He said a wellness centre would be a lawful business entitled to a business license.

The consent order would be in place until federal laws change.

The staff recommendation is also predicated on terminating the two legal actions currently taking place between the city and Herbal Greens, which would be allowed to enter into a consent order with the other two dispensaries if legal action ceases.

Coun. Tarik Sayeed asked if an exception could be made for those with prescriptions for marijuana. Haddad said a process was already in place, and wouldn’t be supported through the consent orders.

Coun. Helena Konanz asked if other stores selling marijuana paraphernalia in the city would now be required to get a consent order. Haddad said those existing operations would be regulated under an existing business license.

Coun. Max Picton said he continued to support extension of the temporary use permits, noting they served a need in the community, but Coun. Judy Sentes said she had to vote for the staff recommendation.

“As it came forward just a few months ago, I had an empathy for the people, because I understood the need, and so I thought the temporary use permit would get us through until the federal government did what they were saying they were going to do. The fact it is still illegal haunts me, and so I am going to support this now,” she said.

Council voted in favour of the staff recommendation, to deny temporary use permits to Okanagan Cannibinoid Therapy and Green Essence, directing staff to work with legal counsel to permit the two dispensaries to obtain compliance as a wellness centre through a consent action.

Council also agreed to prohibit marijuana dispensaries until lawfully permitted by the federal and provincial governments.


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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2017
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