West­side pot shops lose their li­cences

West Kelowna says 2 stores have been op­er­at­ing il­le­gally

The Daily Courier - - FRONT PAGE - By RON SEY­MOUR

Two West Kelowna pot shops had their busi­ness li­cences re­voked this week by city coun­cil.

Coun­cil mem­bers unan­i­mously ac­cepted staff’s as­ser­tion The Heal­ing Com­pany and Black Crow, both in busi­ness for more than three years, were op­er­at­ing il­le­gally by sell­ing mar­i­juana.

“This op­er­a­tion is not le­gal un­der cur­rent reg­u­la­tions and we can’t over­look that fact,” Coun. Duane Ophus said.

“I think it be­hooves us to en­sure that we are not con­don­ing il­le­gal ac­tiv­ity,” said Coun. Bry­den Winsby.

In re­sponse to a ques­tion from Winsby, a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of The Heal­ing Com­pany ac­knowl­edged the sale of pot as prac­tised by the com­pany was il­le­gal.

“Is it il­le­gal by let­ter of the law? Yes, it is,” said lawyer David Towil.

But he ap­pealed un­suc­cess­fully for coun­cil to sim­ply ta­ble the mat­ter for a few months, in the ex­pec­ta­tion the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment will soon an­nounce whether mar­i­juana can be sold by pri­vate stores when the drug is le­gal­ized next July 1.

“This store, and it’s not re­ally a store — it’s a club — has op­er­ated here with no in­ci­dents, no prob­lems, no noth­ing, for over three years,” Towil said.

“Main­tain­ing the sta­tus quo for this busi­ness makes a lot of sense,” Towil said. “If the prov­ince comes out with a dis­tri­bu­tion model that makes this busi­ness il­le­gal, that’s the end of it.”

The Heal­ing Com­pany is a club with 700 mem­bers, many of whom would be neg­a­tively af­fected if they couldn’t buy pot at the store, Towil said.

Black Crow op­er­ated more along the lines

of a tra­di­tional busi­ness, sell­ing pot to any­one over 21 who had a med­i­cal pre­scrip­tion to use pot, com­pany spokes­woman Selina Lau told coun­cil.

Cur­rent fed­eral law is that the sale of pot is il­le­gal, even if it is be­ing pur­chased by hold­ers of a med­i­cal mar­i­juana pre­scrip­tion.

Aside from the two pot shops be­ing il­le­gal, sev­eral coun­cil­lors said they were con­cerned there was noth­ing in place to reg­u­late the qual­ity of mar­i­juana be­ing sold at the shops.

“Cur­rently, we have an un­reg­u­lated and an un­safe sup­ply,” said Coun. Rusty En­sign. “Al­though I re­ally strug­gle with peo­ple who need this, we’re caught in the mid­dle be­tween reg­u­la­tion and the law, and I can­not in good con­science sup­port some­thing that is il­le­gal.”

“To me, this is a tick­ing time bomb,” said Coun. Rick de Jong. “There is no reg­u­la­tory body in place to en­sure the qual­ity of the sup­ply.”

Can­cel­la­tion of the two li­cences was im­me­di­ate. The own­ers of the shops face fines of up to $500 for ev­ery day they re­main open.


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