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Owners of Kelowna marijuana dispensary facing drug charges

by papapuff » Thu Mar 16, 2017 10:54 am

March 15, 2017 6:09 pm

Despite threats, it’s business as usual for West Kelowna pot shops

By Kelly Hayes
Video Journalist Global News


West Kelowna is home to at least six medical marijuana dispensaries — each one of them under the microscope since West Kelowna RCMP and the city began sabre rattling. The RCMP was the loudest voice stating the dispensaries won’t be tolerated and that they are illegal.

Talk of getting tough on dispensaries began a couple of few weeks ago, so Global News visited several of them Wednesday to find out if the RCMP had paid them a visit.

“I can tell you right now we haven’t been visited by the city at all,” said one dispensary owner. “There’s been a very small amount of communication between the RCMP. I think us and the RCMP share some big concerns and those concerns are the massive amount of clients that are using, medical clients that are using medical cannabis now, and looking for safe sources of that medicine.”

The owner went on to say that if the RCMP shut the dispensaries down, the people seeking medical marijuana would go underground to get their medicine.

All the other pot shops Global News visited said the same — that neither the RCMP nor anyone from the city hall have paid them a visit.

West Kelowna RCMP declined an on camera interview but provided a statement which said, in part: “It may appear there are varying degrees of enforcement action depending on the community. What, if any, action may be appropriate or when that action would occur will remain with the RCMP.”

Bob Menzies runs a business next to a medical marijuana dispensary in West Kelowna. He says traffic at the dispensary picked up substantially when word got out that the city and RCMP might be taking action.

“A couple of Saturdays ago when there was some news that the RCMP may uphold the law there was a steady stream of cars and a steady stream of customers going in,” Menzies said.

As for the residents of West Kelowna, some say the dispensaries are fine where they are while others say they should at least move from the downtown core.

“I have actually seen people walk out of the marijuana shop and smoking up before they drive away on multiple occasions. My preference would be for them — certainly until it’s legalized and fully controlled — to see them go somewhere else,” the man said.

But for now, despite threats of shutting them down, it’s business as usual for the pot shops in West Kelowna.
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by papapuff » Tue Apr 11, 2017 10:19 am

Kelowna Capital News

Pot shops not welcome in Kelowna just yet

Council puts together some boundaries in advance of pot legalization

KATHY MICHAELSTue Apr 11th, 2017

Don’t jump the gun and make any plans to open a pot shop in Kelowna.

That’s the message from city council, who voted Monday in support of the first reading of a bylaw that specifically excludes retail businesses from selling marijuana.

“Several businesses have sprung up in Kelowna’s commercial areas which appear to be operating or planning to operate in the future as marijuana dispensary type businesses,” said Ryan Smith, community planning manager in a report to council explaining the impetus to raise the issue.

“Staff are concerned that those taking the risk to invest in such a way prior to formal law and policy from the federal and provincial governments and regulation from local government may run into future conflict with land use regulations. At the present time, marijuana dispensaries wishing to use a storefront type model are not legal in Canada.”

While it may seem redundant to specifically highlight that retail stores in the city can’t sell recreational marijuana — something that’s remained illegal since 1923 — Mayor Colin Basran, pointed out failing to set out boundaries in light of federal government comments has been costly for the City of Vancouver.

The number of pot dispensaries there exploded last year after the Liberals promised to make good on an election promise to legalize the drug.

Vancouver tried to close them down. They started with handing out fines to those who wouldn’t shut their doors and eventually they filed court injunctions. Last month there were police raids to complement earlier efforts.

Some have argued it’s been a significant effort considering legalization looks like it will happen soon.

To that, Coun. Luke Stack pointed out that there is likely a great deal of time before it does. Even if the ball gets rolling this spring, as the federal government has indicated, any changes to the laws will require rigorous parliamentary and regulatory process.

“This is years away,” said Stack, adding that the city needs to have something in place that says, “hold off, everybody. Do nothing. Just wait.”

The only one to voice opposition to the bylaw was Coun. Charlie Hodge who said he felt that putting forward any restrictions in advance of legalization could be a problem. He noted that any future effort to restrict potshops could stigmatize users — particularly medical marijuana users.

The language highlighted in the bylaw will be change the definitions of businesses licences under the titles of health services-major, retail store – convenience, general, health products and service commercial to clearly prohibit the retail sale or dispensing of marijuana.

Staff are also proposing to update the definition of “Medical Marijuana Production Facility” in order to ensure that the definition remains up to date with the current Health Canada regulations.

In the future, once federal and provincial governments set out how they want legalization to play out, the bylaw will be revisited to set boundaries on how and where they want pot shops to run.

The issue will go to public hearing May 2.
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by papapuff » Mon Apr 24, 2017 12:52 pm

Salmon Arm Observer

Kelowna plans to change pot bylaw

A plan to make dispensaries illegal in the city is short-sighted, according to marijuana activist

Mon Apr 24th, 2017

A plan to ban pot shops in Kelowna while the federal government completes the legalization process is not in the city’s best interest, says a would-be proprietor.

“Realistically, legalization could still be two years away and in that time, youth will continue to have unregulated access, citizens will continue to be arrested, draining much needed police and court resources, while your community receives no revenue through licensing and taxation,” reads a brochure from Mark Conlin, who will be speaking to Kelowna city council on behalf of the company Starbuds during a public hearing for a pot bylaw that restricts retail sales of pot in Kelowna.

“The time for change is now and it’s in your hands.”

Conlin’s brochure recommends that the city enact local licensing and regulations now and offers Starbud’s help to regulate medical cannabis safely and responsibly, “just as (they) have done in other communities.”

Currently the sale of marijuana is illegal in Canada.

Proposed amendments to a Kelowna zoning bylaw that covers the operation of retail stores reinforces that law for the time being at least.

Once the federal government legalizes marijuana, however, municipalities are expected to have the power to regulate pot shops, controlling where pot shops can go and how long they can operate. Operators would likely go through rezoning processes which would permit neighbours to comment.

Conlin’s brochure indicates the federal task force charged with providing recommendations on the path to legalization, has said stand-alone storefront businesses provide the best avenue toward the effective regulation and control of cannabis in our communities.

“This same task force has recommended that provincial and municipal governments have jurisdiction in the enforcement of those regulations in their own communities,” it reads. “Which means you are empowered to help people in your community who are being discriminated against right now.”

Waiting, it reads, is not only unconstitutional, it also means the potential loss of licensing fees and employment opportunities for the community.

The amendment would specifically prohibit the sale of marijuana in retail outlets.

The public can offer their views on the proposed amendment at a meeting set for 6 p.m. Tuesday at Kelowna City Hall.

Currently, there are several marijuana dispensaries in operation in Kelowna.
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by papapuff » Thu Aug 17, 2017 11:42 am

Kamloops This Week

North Shore marijuana dispensary closes after demand from police

By Kamloops This Week - August 17, 2017

Another Kamloops dispensary has shut its doors.

Staff at the North Shore location of Starbuds told KTW they received a cease and desist letter last week, giving them seven days to close.

The dispensary, which has been in operation about eight months, closed its doors this week.

A second dispensary, Okanagan Cannabinoid Therapy, located on Victoria Street, was also named in the letter, Starbuds staff said. Staff at that dispensary confirmed receipt of the letter, but declined to comment on whether they would continue to operate. So far, the store’s social media has made no mention of a possible closure.

Starbuds staff said two other outlets of the franchise located on the South Shore did not appear to have received letters at this time.

Kamloops RCMP confirmed to KTW earlier this month they have begun cracking down on the city’s dispensaries after a long period of apparent amnesty in the Tournament Capital.

“In Kamloops, it’s gotten to the point of critical mass,” Staff Sgt. Simon Pillay told KTW at the time.

In 2011, Kamloops Mounties raided a Tranquille Road dispensary and arrested owner Carl Anderson.

After more than two years in court, the charges against him were dropped in 2014.
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by papapuff » Tue Sep 05, 2017 10:46 am

The Daily Courier

West Kelowna council considers new ways to stop pot shops

Ron Seymour Sep 4, 2017

The owners of unlicensed pot shops in West Kelowna could be fined up to $500 every day they stay open.

New municipal regulations intended principally to drive the pot shops out of business will be considered today by city council.

Commercial sellers of marijuana do not currently have to obtain a business licence because they have set up their shops as registered societies.

But the city is moving to close what it sees as a loophole by requiring all societies that have a streetfront operation ó such as a thrift store, for example ó to get a business licence.

It is the city’s intention to refuse to grant such permits to businesses that sell marijuana, on the grounds that such commercial ventures are illegal.

Assuming the regulation is changed, the question will then become how such new rules would be enforced. Existing rules are insufficient to discourage pot shops from staying in business, staff suggest in a report to council.

“The current business licensing and regulations bylaw does not have provision for bylaw enforcement to issue a ticket for non-compliance on a daily basis,” legislative services manager Shelley Schnitzler writes in the report.

“Additionally, the maximum fine that can be issued on a ticket for operating without a business license is $200,” she writes.

Staff’s suggestion is council approve bylaw changes so officers could issue a fine every day that a business without a licence continues to operate. A second suggestion is the maximum fine be raised from $200 to $500.

Like other municipalities, West Kelowna has been vexed by the proliferation of pot shops in advance of the federal government’s expected legalization of the drug. Operators of such shops have been essentially betting that they will be allowed to remain open, and stay where they are once marijuana is legalized.

Earlier this year, council heard there were six pot shops in West Kelowna. Once the drug becomes legalized, West Kelowna’s intention is to restrict businesses that sell pot to industrial areas, as well as to apply other regulations such as requirements for comprehensive air-filtration and security systems.
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by papapuff » Fri Oct 06, 2017 11:22 am

Not a dispensary, for now

Nicholas Johansen - Oct 6, 2017

Kelowna's newest coffee shop is not a cannabis dispensary. At least not yet.

The Doja Culture Cafe held an opening party at their new Bernard Avenue location Thursday, and while the cafe serves just coffee and food for now, things may change in the future.

“It's basically a coffee shop and it's also a secondary arm of our facility in West Kelowna that's cultivating legal cannabis for Health Canada,” said Ria Kitsch, vice president of Doja.

Currently, the coffee shop sells a small selection of bongs, pipes, rolling papers and apparel, in addition to coffee and food.

As marijuana dispensaries are currently illegal to operate in Canada, Kitsch emphasized Doja is not a dispensary, but she her and husband Trent are waiting to see how things fall into place as the federal government works towards legalizing the much-maligned plant.

Legalization is expected to occur federally in July 2018.

“We're totally just open to whatever the government says, so if we can (sell cannabis), absolutely, that would be awesome, but if we can't and it's in the some other channel that's not managed independently, then that's what we'll do,” Kitsch said. “But we think that if people have a place that's like (where) you can go and have a drink somewhere, you could go and enjoy your cannabis somewhere, that'd be probably the future.”

The City of Kelowna has hinted it will not want dispensaries to operate in the downtown core once cannabis is legalized.

“We've been in contact with the city a lot and they're very much trying to ensure that we're not a dispensary,” Kitsch said. “I think they've had experiences where people say, 'oh we're not going to,' and then they do, so we're really trying to show and build the trust with the city, which we have through our other businesses.”

The Kitschs also own Kitsch Wines in East Kelowna and the Kitsch Construction and Development Company. Trent Kitsch also founded SAXX Underwear, and has since sold the company.

Ria Kitsch says they are hoping to push back against the long-standing stigma that comes with cannabis use.

“There's a lot of people who use cannabis who are super high achievers, for a lot of people it balances their life out in some way,” she said. “It shouldn't be any different than having a glass of wine at the end of the day.”
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by papapuff » Wed Oct 11, 2017 9:48 am

October 10, 2017

West Kelowna council yanks two medical marijuana business licences

By Kelly Hayes
Video Journalist Global News


There are six marijuana dispensaries or clubs that sell medical marijuana in West Kelowna.

Up until Tuesday, two of the six were operating with a valid business licence. They were Black Crow Herbals and The Healing Company.

The city had originally granted valid business licences to the two medical marijuana operations, but later amended its bylaw, making selling marijuana from businesses illegal.

The lawyer for The Healing Company had asked council to delay its decision until the B.C. government decided how it’s going to handle the sale of marijuana in the province.

“All we were simply asking today was not to make a decision on the merits of it — not yes or no — but to put it off until the province announced what it’s going to do with the regulation and distribution of cannabis in British Columbia,” David Towill said.

Leslie Flamand said she uses medical marijuana to keep her cancer at bay. She was getting it from The Healing Company. She said council failed to take people in her situation into consideration.

“It is so discouraging that today, 2017, that my medicine is not available,” Flamand said.

Tuesday’s decision means that all six dispensaries or clubs are now operating without a business licence.

The Healing Company says it’s considering its next move, including whether or not it will stay open.

“I’ll be consulting with my client over the next couple of days and make that decision,” Towill said.
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by papapuff » Thu Oct 12, 2017 10:36 am

Kelowna Capital News

West Kelowna pot shop says it will stay open

Despite having its business licence cancelled Black Crow Herbals says it will continue operating

Wed Oct 11th, 2017

A director of Black Crow Herbal Solutions, which runs a store in West Kelowna that bills itself as a cannabis “dispensary,” and which had it’s business licence cancelled by West Kelowna city council on Tuesday, says despite council’s move the store will continue to operate.

The business licences for the West Kelowna Black Crow store and another dispensary, which unlike Black Crow only provides cannabis products to members of a club it operates and does not sell to anyone “off the street,” were both cancelled because what they are doing is currently illegally in Canada.

The second business, The Healing Company, is located on Stevens Road in West Kelowna. It provides cannabis product to roughly 700 members.

Robert Jaenicke, a director of Black Crow Herbal Solutions in Vernon, where it has a second store, told the Vernon Morning Star newspaper that with or without a business license, the West Kelowna store on Westgate Road will remain open.

And he questioned why West Kelowna council cancelled the business licence at this time.

“Why now? Why after all this time? he said.

“It doesn’t make any sense to me because I’ve been operating now for three years. I’m just not sure what their rush is now?”

In a presentation to council on Tuesday, a woman who identified herself as the company’s regional manager, Selina Lau, asked council to hold off making any decision until it is known how the province plans to proceed with the distribution of cannabis given the federal government intends to legalize marijuana in Canada starting next summer.

She said unlike The Healing Company, people are allowed to buy cannabis products from Black Crow stores, but only if they have a valid medical reason for purchasing and are of legal age. Black Crow does not operate a club and there are no members she said, in response to a question by Coun. Bryden Winsby.

Jaenicke admitted to the Morning Star that the business has been illegal “since the day we opened.”

Lau said it has followed all the rules put in place by the City of West Kelowna and she added it was even cited as an example of how a cannabis dispensary should be operated by the city in the past.

David Towill, a lawyer representing the Healing Company also asked the city to hold off cancelling his client’s business licence until next spring when it’s expected Victoria will decide how cannabis is to be distributed in B.C.

The federal government has left it up to the provinces to decide on the distribution method. In Ontario, the government there has already announced it will be sold there through provincially owned and operated stores.

Towill said if the B.C. government decides to allow private dispensaries, his client’s store could continue operating. If not, his client accepts the store would have to close. But he said forcing closure now will hurt the 700 club members who rely on cannabis products for health-related issues every day.

Under questioning by Winsby, Towill admitted the way the Health Company currently operates is illegal.

Both Lau’s and Towill’s requests to hold off on a decision were rejected by council, which voted unanimously to cancel both business licences.

Towill said any decision about staying open without a business licence had yet to be made by his clients.

Lau, quickly left the council chamber after the decision was voted on, refusing to comment. She said no one from her company speaks to the media.

Coun. Rusty Ensign said he didn’t like having to vote to cancel the business licences but said he had no choice because of the illegality of the sales. Coun. Rick DeJong said he voted to cancel because of the illegality and because of concerns about the lack of a regulatory program to ensure the quality of the cannabis being sold.

There are currently four other “dispensaries” operating in West Kelowna as non-profit businesses but they do not have business licences that can be cancelled. The Capital News has learned the RCMP are investigating those businesses with an eye to shutting them down too.

Earlier this year, the city asked the RCMP if the cannabis sales in West Kelowna through the “dispensaries” were illegal and the city’s top cop, Staff-Sgt. Leslie Roseberry, said they were illegal.

At the time, Mayor Doug Findlater said council would not press the police to shut down the dispensaries, but did expect the West Kelowna RCMP to do its job given the illegal nature of the sales.

The city decided to act on the business licences through its bylaw department because it was easier than having the police investigate and lay charges in order to shut down the businesses.

The decision to cancel the The Healing Company’s licence hit at least one customer hard.

Leslie Flammand, a cancer survivor who suffers a number of other illnesses including PTSD, was in tears as she left he council chamber Tuesday.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do,” she said wiping away the tears rolling down her cheeks.
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