Penticton city council still isn’t ready to allow medical marijuana dispensaries to operate within the city limits.
Councillors expressed support for the concept in general, but said they needed to follow the city’s existing business licence bylaws, at least until staff return with portions on regulation, as requested on July 19 during a similar hearing, related to the Rush in and Finish Café. Mayor Andrew Jakubeit said it is not the within city council’s jurisdiction to choose what part of federal bylaws to uphold, though he recognized that there was a degree of acceptance for the operations.
Coun. Tarik Sayeed spoke strongly against cancelling the business licences.
“It is illegal because we are keeping it illegal,” said Sayeed, likening the struggle to those around abortion rights and gay marriage.
Several times, the audience made their support for Robert Kay (Avitas Pharmaco) and Melissa Oslowy (Green Essence) know in the form of applause, and after some shouted objections to the proceedings, Jakubeit invited two of the audience members to leave one left quietly, but the other continued to shout about his dictates for Penticton all the way down the hallway.
“I realize this is a passionate issue,” said Jakubeit. “We are trying to deal with this fairly for everyone.”
Oslowy said they resisted opening a dispensary for years before choosing to enlarge their operation earlier this year. She said the response from the community has been enthusiastic.
“By denying us a business licenses, thousands of our customers will be forced back on to the streets, where they will be at the mercy of dealers,” said Oslowy. “Please allow us to continue supporting our clients until you have finished your 60-day review.
Kay spoke to his personal credentials as a legal grower, and the community need for access to marijuana.
“I need to be specific that hey are not dispensaries, they are compassion clubs,” said Kay, who also has operations in Vernon and Kelowna, both with business licences as private clubs. “It is not about smoking weed and getting high. If it was, I wouldn’t be here earlier. This, for us, is providing safe access, harm reduction, it’s key.”
Kay also invited Zac Walsh, a psychologist with UBC-O who studies medical marijuana dispensaries, to speak in support.
“I believe they are doing important valuable work. I believe they are on the right side of history,” said Walsh.
Coun. Campbell Watt comments reflected the feelings of council.
“I have such a struggle here. I know of people that have benefited from medical cannabis,” said Watt, noting that the issue is not about the merits of medical marijuana, but the city’s ability to grant business licences under existing policy.
“It is just not something we can move forward with.”
In both cases, council voted 5-2 to cancel the business licences for both businesses with Sayeed and Jakubeit opposed.
Coun. Andre Martin asked that Oslowy be patient and wait for the changes before moving her business out of the community.
“I think there are changes coming down the pipe,” said Martin.
News Moderator: Katelyn Baker
Full Article: Penticton Shuts Down Two More Marijuana Dispensaries, At Least For Now
Author: Steve Kidd
Contact: BC Local News
Photo Credit: Steve Kidd
Website: BC Local News