Pubdate: Wed, 24 Jun 2015
Source: Peace Arch News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2015 Peace Arch News
Author: Tracy Holmes
Bookmark: (Spiritual or Sacramental)


Proponents behind White Rock's marijuana-focused religious 
organization are calling for a worldwide boycott of the city, 
following an order issued Friday to dismantle the gathering place or 
face fines.

Robin Douglas - who calls himself Pastor Robin, a title he says will 
soon be official - told Peace Arch News Monday the boycott led by the 
Church of the Holy Smoke is in protest of "their violation of human 
rights and freedom of religion."

"They gave us a notice that we have to have our tent down by Friday 
(June 26) or else they're going to start to issue us a $150 fine," 
Douglas said. "If they're going to give us a ticket... the City of 
White Rock has to, by law, ticket everybody that has a tent on the 
property, otherwise it becomes selective prosecution.

"White Rock should not have a right to shut a religion down that is 
trying to do good for the community."

Mayor Wayne Baldwin, however, said he does not believe the 
organization is appropriate for White Rock, and he is "not going to 
be overwhelmed" by the boycott threat.

"We're dealing with it within the law," Baldwin said.

Douglas opened the facility in a tent structure on property in the 
14700-block of Marine Drive about 2 1/2 months ago. His goal, he told 
PAN, was to create a place where residents and visitors alike can 
safely enjoy cannabis; to keep pot "off the beach and off the street."

Signage outside notes entry is restricted to those 18 years and 
older, and while Douglas confirmed he is under court order not to 
have anyone younger than 18 in his residence - the condition was part 
of a sentence imposed last November on a trafficking charge - he said 
the restriction at his facility would have been in place anyway.

"Regardless if that was there or not, it would still be 18-plus," he said.

The city's interest in the facility was sparked by a complaint 
earlier this month, and officials told PAN at that time that efforts 
were underway to have it taken down.

The city's director of development services Karen Cooper said last 
week that if the property owner doesn't comply with fire and safety 
requirements, adjustments will have to be made "or he is to leave."

Fire Chief Phil Lemire confirmed Monday that the structure does not 
meet building or fire code regulations for "assembly occupancy use."

White Rock RCMP Cpl. Michelle Thiessen said investigation into the 
property is ongoing, and if any criminal activity occurs, "we will 
take action."

She described the situation as "not only a police issue, but kind of 
an overall White Rock community issue."

Thiessen said there have been no arrests in connection with Douglas's 
operation so far, including over the past weekend, when he had 
predicted "a thousand stoners" would turn out to West Beach for the 
"largest smoke-off that White Rock will ever see."

Attendance was decidedly fewer, Douglas confirmed Monday - estimating 
150 people participated over the course of the day - but the event 
served its purpose nonetheless, he said.

"We got our name out there. We had lots of people come by and say 
'yes, this is a good thing... we support you'," he said.

He maintains that activities within the facility are legal under the 
right to practise religion.

"We're not selling cannabis, we're smoking it," he said. "We have 
declared this our holy church and therefore we have the right to use 
our holy sacrament in our church."

In addition to fighting his eviction notice - a teleconference 
hearing has been set for Aug. 12 through the tenancy branch - Douglas 
said he will defy the City of White Rock order. If his operation is 
forcibly dismantled, he plans to file a human-rights complaint under 
the religious act, "and the City of White Rock will have to answer 
for crimes against the church."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom