West Kelowna marijuana dispensaries lose faint-hope appeal - InfoNews

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West Kelowna marijuana dispensaries lose faint-hope appeal

January 25, 2018 - 5:30 PM

WEST KELOWNA - Mayor Doug Findlater had to dust off a little-used appeal process at council this week to deny two Westside cannabis dispensaries their last appeal of the decision to deny them business license renewals in December.

Kelowna defense lawyer Stanley Tessmer appeared on behalf of Black Crow Herbals Association and Okanagan Cannabis Solutions Society during the business license refusal appeal.

Tessmer argued Black Crow and Okanagan Cannabis were good corporate citizens that were transparent in their intentions when setting up shop in 2014 and 2015 and had been given assurances by the municipality and local RCMP of their ability to operate.

Even when the municipality amended their business licensing bylaw to exclude businesses that contravene the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, Tessmer said his clients were told they could continue to operate and had not received complaints about their business or products.

He pointed to other communites in B.C. that made efforts to accommodate dispensaries and said the Local Government Act allows municipalities to approve non-conforming uses such as dispensaries to continue at their discretion.

Tessmer even argued the current medical cannabis model where patients must buy online from Health Canada designated growers discriminated against low income patients who may not have a phone or credit card.

It was all for naught as West Kelowna councillors, unmoved by Tessmer's arguments, voted unanimously to deny the appeal.

Coun. Rick de Jong told Tessmer his concern lay around the unregulated and untested products being sold in the dispensaries, despite efforts by the owners to provide some consumer information on a hand-out to clients.

“Being unregulated and an illegal supply, how do we know the product represents what it says on the sheet,” he asked.

Coun. Bryden Winsby said council’s concern was not getting into the burgeoning cannabis market but the straight legality of the businesses it licenses.

Black Crow and Okanagan Cannabis were among six dispensaries operating in West Kelowna ordered to shut down last fall.

Five of them have continued to operate in the face of daily fines from West Kelowna bylaw.

Black Crow and Okanagan Cannabis appeared in B.C. Provincial Court today, Jan. 25 each facing 39 bylaw violations.


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