Pot shops targeted despite looming legalization

Business licenses being pulled, yet no enforcement in Vernon

Marijuana will be legal in less than 10 months, yet in the meantime, pot shops are being stripped of their license to sell.

Several municipalities in the Okanagan are cracking down on medical marijuana dispensaries by cancelling their business licenses.

In Vernon, existing business licenses were not renewed earlier this year, and now West Kelowna is pulling licenses.

See story: West Kelowna cancels business license for two pot shops and West Kelowna targetting more pot shops.

That’s left stores such as Black Crow Herbal Solutions wondering, “why now?”

“It doesn’t make any sense to me because I’ve been operating now for three years,” said Robert Jaenicke, a director of Black Crow, which has a shop in Vernon and West Kelowna.

But the fact that such stores are selling an illegal product, and now without a business license, doesn’t mean they will be closing their doors.

“Unfortunately the municipality is not the one that governs the rules,” explains Vernon Mayor Akbal Mund.

It’s the RCMP that would normally be responsible for these illegal businesses selling, what are still illegal, drugs.

“I’m pretty sure they’ve been told across the country to leave it alone,” suggests Mund. “Otherwise they’d be cracking down.”

Since no one has come crashing into either of his Okanagan shops, Jaenicke figures the same.

“The RCMP has taken a hands-off approach,” said Jaenicke, as the police aren’t getting much support from crown counsel. “If people are operating responsibly it looks to me like they’re going to leave it alone. They’re not wasting time and money going after us when no harm is being done.”

So when asked why bother revoking these business licenses now, Mayor Mund said it was because they initially applied as compassionate health and wellness clubs. And now that the city is aware of what is being sold, the licenses have not been renewed.

The same goes for West Kelowna, where Black Crow and the Healing Company asked council to defer its decision until the provincial government had announced its distribution plan for the legalization of marijuana.

The federal government has said it will be legalizing marijuana July 1, 2018.

But Mund points out that the provinces will have until July 1, 2019 to make their rules. And Ontario has plans to sell pot through the Liquor Control Board, which he suggests could be the case Canada-wide.

“I think what you’ll see all across Canada will run the same,” said Mund, who attended the cannabis seminar at UBCM where panellists said B.C. would probably follow Ontario’s lead. “It has to be the same, otherwise it won’t work.”

But what municipalities can do is set up some regulations, such as not having such pot shops within 500 metres of a school, or within each other pot shops, or certain areas of town.

And that’s exactly what Jaenicke suggests, as the influx of pot shops on almost every corner isn’t good for his business either.

“There were three or four of us in town who actually went through the process of talking to the city,” said Jaenicke, who has been running the store in Vernon for three-and-a-half years now.

Now that there are at least half a dozen in town, Vernon, and other municipalities are getting anxious.

See story: Growth in pot shop numbers sparks concern

“It’s just crazy,” said Jaenicke of the growth in pot shop storefronts. “Now the city is rightfully upset.”

Meanwhile UBCO researchers are urging policy makers not to alter a cannabis distribution system that—while not legal yet—works well.

See story: UBCO recommends letting illegal pot shops stay open.

Associate professor Zach Walsh, who teaches psychology at UBC’s Okanagan campus, and PhD candidate Rielle Capler, recently published a study on medicinal cannabis dispensaries and determined customers prefer the independent storefront as opposed to growing their own, or getting it from a dealer. Their research suggests that when recreational marijuana use becomes legal in 2018, the current system of dispensaries should remain.

Capler calls the current method a ‘natural experiment’ that’s been underway for decades and says law makers should this keep in mind when addressing regulation policies.

“Dispensaries are not new and they provide a proven, valuable service,” she said. “While some are thought of as a nuisance, in reality many of these dispensaries are small, independent, long-standing businesses who serve a dedicated clientele.”

Mund would not state his position on marijuana, but did say: “Do I believe it will have issues? Yes. Do I believe it will be the same incidence as alcohol? No. Alcohol causes a lot more death and a lot more issues than marijuana does.”


@VernonNews
jennifer@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

In a statement, BC RCMP’s media relations officer Cpl.Chris Manseau said that even an amount as small as grain of sand could be fatal. (File photo)
Sayward RCMP alerts residents after highly toxic opioid carfentanil found in community

The opioid’s toxicity levels is 100 times more than that of fentanyl

Kuterra’s smolts will come from Cermaq hatcheries. (Whole Oceans image)
Cermaq to supply salmon smolts to land-based farm Kuterra

Emergent Holdings, which operates Kuterra, and Cermaq signed a four-year agreement

Candice Woloshyn prepares her flower beds for the next season at her ‘Dirty Girl Flowers’ farm in Merville. Despite the pandemic, Woloshyn was able to sustain her homegrown business as community members opted for regular deliveries of fresh cut flowers. Photo by Binny Paul/ Campbell River Mirror.
Vancouver Island flower farmers were blooming as the pandemic wilted everything else

Floriculturists saw increased subscriptions as fresh flowers became a ‘sight for sore eyes’ during isolation

Dispatcher at Campbell River fire dispatch centre during wind storms on Dec. 20, 2018. Photo courtesy Campbell River Fire Department
North Island 9-1-1 celebrates 25 years of serving the community

From mountainous areas to forested landscapes and pristine oceanside communities, North Island… Continue reading

Campbell River's new hospital, July 2018
Nurse diverts opiates and falsifies records at Campbell River Hospital

Nurse facing disciplinary action for moving opiates out of the hospital

Carolyn and Steve Touhey came across a pod of humpback whales while on their boat Sunday, Oct. 25. Photo supplied
VIDEO: Boaters encounter pod of humpbacks in Georgia Strait

Pod spotted between Comox and Texada Island

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID pandemic during a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau says pandemic ‘really sucks,’ and that Christmas gatherings are up in the air

The prime minister encouraged residents to continue to follow the advice of local health authorities

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

The Williams Lake Indian Band is stipulating no-go zones for mushroom picking in areas burned by last summer’s wildfires. 100 Mile Free Press photo
Who controls mushroom harvesting on Indigenous lands?

‘We don’t necessarily know where the mushrooms grow, how old the stands need to be, those types of things.’

Canadian and American flags fly near the Ambassador Bridge at the Canada/USA border crossing in Windsor, Ont. on Saturday, March 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rob Gurdebeke
U.S. election results one factor that could impact immigration to Canada next year

The survey polled 1,523 Canadians between Oct. 23 and Oct. 25

The voting station mimicked a real voting station in Nicole Choi’s classroom at Chilliwack middle school on Oct. 22, 2020, where students had to show their ID (student cards), be checked off a list, and mark a secret ballot behind a screen. (Jessica Peters/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. students choose NDP majority in mock election

More than 90,000 youth took part in school-based election process

Crew transport bus at the Trans Mountain pipeline project work site in Burnaby, March 2020. (Trans Mountain)
Check your workplace COVID-19 safety plans, Dr. Henry urges

Masks in public spaces, distance in lunchrooms for winter

B.C.’s Court of Appeal is in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Judgment reserved in Surrey Six slayings appeals

Six men were killed in suite 1505 of the Balmoral Tower in Whalley on Oct. 19, 2007

Most Read