Dispensaries in Penticton denied permit extensions, encouraged to become pot-free “wellness centres”

After city staff in Penticton made recommendations to prohibit the licensing of cannabis dispensaries until the federal and provincial governments permit their operation, council in the Okanagan town voted this afternoon to deny permit extensions to two cannabis retail shops.

GREEN ESSENCE DISPENSARY / FACEBOOK

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After city staff in Penticton made recommendations to prohibit the licensing of cannabis dispensaries until the federal and provincial governments permit their operation, council in the Okanagan town voted this afternoon to deny permit extensions to two cannabis retail shops.

This decision came after a July 4 deferral, when councilors did not agree on a motion to deny permits.

Both Green Essence and Okanagan Cannabinoid Therapy had requested to extend their permits beyond a six-month trial, which had been decided upon by council last December.

The extensions were denied, and instead, staff indicated in a report that the businesses should ‘obtain compliance as a ‘wellness centre’ through a consent order’.

The report defines a wellness centre as ‘a storefront business that would provide information on accessing medical cannabis and lobby for marijuana legalization.’

It goes on to say that such a shop would be permitted to sell paraphernalia like pipes and other accessories, but it would not be allowed to sell cannabis, or products derived from cannabis.

Representing Okanagan Cannabinoid Therapy in the municipal matter, lawyer Robert Laurie told the Straight in an email that, two weeks ago, city staff indicated that they planned to renew the temporary permits.

“Now the city is refusing to consider an extension and is choosing to accommodate the need for reasonable dignified patient access to cannabis by replacing dispensaries with wellness centres,’ he wrote.

Laurie had argued at the July 4 meeting that without dispensaries, there is no access to cannabis for patients living in Penticton.

‘This new direction taken by council, for whatever reason, will do nothing I suspect but generate a flurry of new “wellness centres” opening in Penticton. This development should keep things very interesting from now until ‘legalization’ is brought in by the Liberals.’

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