West Kelowna  

Seeking $150K in pot fines

A judge has granted the City of West Kelowna an injunction to shut down two cannabis dispensaries operating in the city, nine months after the dispensaries shut down on their own accord, but the city is still seeking $150,000 in fines from them.

Robert Jaenicke was issued a business licence for Black Crow Herbals from the City of West Kelowna in 2014, and two years later, he opened Okanagan Cannabis Solutions as a non-profit society, which didn't require a business licence at the time.

Both stores sold medical marijuana and related products for several years, and the city granted Black Crow Herbals a business licence in 2015, 2016 and 2017. Selina Lau, the manager of the dispensaries, told the court many of their customers were unhappy with the limited supply of products available through the Health Canada medical marijuana program, and the two dispensaries were meeting the needs of their customers.

In late 2017, the city refused to issue business licences for either store, but the dispensaries continued to operate anyway, racking up thousands of dollars of bylaw infraction tickets from the city in the process.

Jaenicke, the “directing mind” of the two stores initially, says he severed ties with the dispensaries after the city refused to issue the business licences.

In December 2017, the city filed a petition in court in an attempt to shut the stores down, and in response, the owners of the dispensaries challenged the validity of the city's amended bylaw in court. 

Kirsten Jones, communications supervisor with the City of West Kelowna, says the bylaws had been changed in June 2017 to “prevent the issuance of business licences to entities carrying on an illegal activity and to add cannabis sales facilities to the types of uses regulated by the zoning bylaw in anticipation of non-medical cannabis becoming lawful in October 2018.”

Black Crow Herbals and Okanagan Cannabis Solutions closed following the legalization of cannabis.

“I gather that the operators wished to qualify under the new cannabis regime and that continued operations would be a barrier to that process,” Justice Murray Blok said in his recent ruling. “On the face of things, one might have thought this would provide a basis for resolving this matter, and although I encouraged the parties to do just that, no resolution was achieved.”

Last week, Justice Blok ruled the City of West Kelowna had the authority to cancel Black Crow's business licence. He said the continued operation of the stores prior to October 2018 was in contravention of the city's zoning bylaw and business licence bylaw.

While Justice Blok issued the City of West Kelowna an injunction to prevent the stores from operating, he did not issue an enforcement order to allow for police assistance in enforcing the order.

“In light of the stated intention of the respondents to discontinue operations by Oct. 17, 2018, I decline to make an enforcement order at this time,” Justice Blok said.

Justice Blok ordered the businesses to pay for the city's legal costs, which have yet to be determined, but the city is still seeking $74,000 in fines from Black Crow and $76,000 in fines from Okanagan Cannabis Solutions.

“The city will be pursuing legal action to collect the fines due, stemming from a separate legal action against these two businesses,” Jones said.

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