City seeks pot dis­pen­sary court in­junc­tion

Sup­port­ers vow to fight bid to per­ma­nently close busi­nesses

The Hamilton Spectator - - LOCAL - MATTHEW VAN DONGEN mvan­don­gen@thes­ 905-526-3241 | @Mat­tatthes­pec

The city is es­ca­lat­ing its bat­tle with il­le­gal store­front pot shops by seek­ing a court in­junc­tion to shut­ter a pop­u­lar down­town dis­pen­sary and vapour lounge.

But own­ers and sup­port­ers of the Hamil­ton Vil­lage Dis­pen­sary and Cloud Nine are vow­ing to fight to save the 275 King St. E busi­nesses.

The in­junc­tion re­quest ob­tained by The Spec­ta­tor cites zon­ing and by­law vi­o­la­tions in ask­ing a judge to or­der the busi­nesses per­ma­nently closed. It also wants Hamil­ton po­lice to be re­quired to en­force the or­der.

The Vil­lage Dis­pen­sary — formerly Cannabis Cul­ture — has been raided by po­lice more than once over il­le­gal drug sales, but has al­ways re­opened.

“It’s ridicu­lous. They’re look­ing for any op­tion they can to shut us down,” said land­lord Con­rad Floyd, who added he in­tends to fight the court ac­tion along­side with his ten­ants.

“They are look­ing to set a prece­dent. I hope they do, be­cause even­tu­ally we (cannabis ac­tivists) win these fights,” said Cloud Nine owner Brit­ney Guerra, who pointed to Van­cou­ver’s de­ci­sion to li­cense mar­i­juana dis­pen­saries in that city while the fed­eral gov­ern­ment slowly in­tro­duces new re­tail and pro­duc­tion rules for pot.

Spokesper­son Ann La­manes said the city is “seek­ing com­pli­ance with mu­nic­i­pal by­laws” through the in­junc­tion but de­clined to give more in­for­ma­tion be­cause the mat­ter is be­fore the courts.

The in­junc­tion doc­u­ment, how­ever, cites zon­ing vi­o­la­tions as well as “fla­grant” and re­peated by­law in­frac­tions re­lated to sig­nage, prop­erty stan­dards and even the sale of chips and pop.

The own­ers and cus­tomers of around 20 re­tail med­i­cal mar­i­juana pot shops in Hamil­ton ral­lied at City Hall ear­lier this year to protest the city’s by­law crack­down — which comes on top of reg­u­lar po­lice raids to seize il­le­gal drugs.

The grow­ing num­ber of store­front med­i­cal pot shops across Canada re­main il­le­gal de­spite pend­ing new fed­eral law changes de­signed to le­gal­ize mar­i­juana and reg­u­late pro­duc­tion and dis­tri­bu­tion of the drug.

Guerra — who owned the lo­cal Cannabis Cul­ture un­til she was charged by Toronto po­lice ear­lier this year in a se­ries of raids on the cross-coun­try chain — con­cedes the dis­pen­sary and cannabis

They are look­ing to set a prece­dent. I hope they do... BRIT­NEY GUERRA CLOUD NINE OWNER

lounge are “not yet tech­ni­cally le­gal.”

But she ar­gued the city should li­cense the out­lets in the in­terim to pro­vide “badly needed” ser­vices to med­i­cal mar­i­juana pa­tients, as well as a “safe space” in the vapour lounge. She pointed to an in-store pe­ti­tion call­ing for li­cens­ing that she says has so far at­tracted thou­sands of names as well as an on­line ver­sion.

Floyd noted he and his ten­ants are al­ready fight­ing by­law charges and fines re­lated to the city crack­down. “If you want to get reg­u­la­tory cash out of us, that’s fine. But do it with li­cens­ing fees.”

Guerra said she would love to meet with city politi­cians to find a “mu­tu­ally agree­able so­lu­tion” — but, other­wise, she’ll keep up the fight. “This is a move­ment and we sup­port each other.”


Cloud 9 on King Street East is one of a grow­ing num­ber of store­front med­i­cal mar­i­juana shops. The city is “seek­ing com­pli­ance with mu­nic­i­pal by­laws.”

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