Pot shop blowback?

Now that the city of Kelowna has moved to shut down dispensaries by the end of January, business owners and employees are left holding the bag.

The city of Kelowna issued cease and desist orders to dispensaries ordering them to close by Wednesday, Jan. 31st. Now, dispensary employees tell Castanet they're out of work and at least one business owner is on the hook to pay for his commercial lease until it expires in 2021, regardless of whether the business is allowed to continue operating in the same location.

Evan Cooke, the lawyer hired to represent several Kelowna dispensaries, says without guidelines from the federal government the city is completely within its rights.

"While there are lots of people in the business community looking to get the rush on the so-called "green rush" those efforts, unless they're purely planning are illegal."

Cooke believes the city wants to adopt its own zoning by-law amendments so it can decide where dispensaries are allowed to operate within city limits.

Cooke also implied smaller operators are concerned they may not have the wherewithal to compete with some of larger businesses with deeper pockets.

While officially the federal government is saying it will be no later than July 1st, 2018 before marijuana is legalized, that date may have to get pushed back because there are so many variables that have yet to be sorted out.

"If the real purpose of this cannabis legislation is to eliminate the criminal market, the longer they delay the more opportunity there is for the criminal element to get themselves into the legal, recreational side of the marijuana business."

A recent poll on Castanet asked, where would you buy pot if it were legal? Almost 45 percent of respondents indicated they don't use marijuana, while close to 55 per cent indicated they do and it breaks down their preferred methods.

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