Westside pot shops lose their licences
West Kelowna says 2 stores have been operating illegally
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.