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Penticton pot dispensaries in limbo

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July 06, 2017 - 8:00 PM

PENTICTON - The medical marijuana dispensary debate continues at Penticton city hall.

City council discussed the issue of renewing temporary use permits granted to two dispensaries - Okanagan Cannabinoid Therapy, located at 101-351 Westminster Ave., and Green Essence, located at 409 Martin St., at this week’s council meeting on July 4.

Council granted the two operators six month permits at the Dec. 6, 2016 council meeting. The permits expired on June 30, and city staff brought a recommendation to council to deny an extension, citing legal status of the operations, possible liabilities, and a clearer understanding of law with respect to a City’s right to refuse granting a business license to a dispensary.

Planning manager Blake Laven told council the City has collected over $33,000 in fines from non-compliant dispensaries, with another $30,000-plus still owed.

The City has collected $10,000 in permit fees, with potential to collect $10,000 more if the permits were renewed.

Laven also noted that although significant staff time and effort had been spent regulating temporary use permits, extending them would be not incur much more expense, and would provide money to help offset other potential legal battles.

He also said adding an extension would “further legitimize an admittedly illegal use.”

Robert Laurie, lawyer for Okanagan Cannibinoid Therapy’s Kevin Adams addressed council, suggesting they could incur more legal action by denying the renewals, as well as precipitating civil disobedience as operators continue to open their doors. He praised Mayor Andrew Jakubeit and council for the stand they had taken so far, in allowing the dispensaries to operate.

Council was divided on the staff recommendation once more, Coun. Max Picton saying the operations provided “more benefit than harm to the community,” while Coun. Sayeed cited “moral obligations” to let the operators continue.

A motion to deny the renewals failed, as did a motion to extend the permits for another year.

Ultimately, council opted to table the decision to allow staff to gather more information.

The matter is expected to be addressed at the next council meeting.


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