Dispensary permits pulled

Penticton city council voted Tuesday to pull the plug on its licensing program for a pair of marijuana dispensaries operating in the city.

Okanagan Cannabinoid Therapy and Green Essence will be pushed to apply for a business license as a “wellness centre,” which would allow them to sell cannabis accessories and lobby for legal pot, but not sell the actual product.

Herbal Green Apothecary, a dispensary that has continued to operate unlicensed, will be offered a wellness centre business license contingent on the end of two pending lawsuits between the city and owner, Jukka Laurio.

The motion passed 5 - 2 with councillors Tarik Sayeed and Max Picton voting against.

“I still feel this serves a need in the community, my feelings are that a temporary use permit was a trial to see how this would all unfold and what the response from the community would be,” Picton dissented.

“I did not receive any feedback from the community, either emails, phone calls of any kind — staff have not heard any negative feedback,” he added.

During the July 4 meeting, city manager Peter Weeber stated the dispensaries have “a risk tolerance the city cannot have,” implying that if the pot shops can continue to operate and take their own chances with the RCMP.

The push to pull the licenses came from staff, who stated the temporary use permits contravened federal law.

Mayor Jakubeit pointed to a letter all three operating dispensaries received from the RCMP in March, threatening arrest if they did not cease operations. He admitted the police are not able to distinguish between the licensed and unlicensed shops.

“Should any of these businesses or wellness centres choose to not comply, then RCMP enforcement will more black and white for them to actually go out and enforce,” he said.

Many dispensaries across the province operate under a "wellness centre" banner.

The owners of Okanagan Cannabinoid Therapy and Green Essence declined to speak with media immediately following the council meeting.


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