Pubdate: Tue, 26 Apr 2016
Source: Province, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2016 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: Dan Fumano
Page: 3


Defiant Owners: City has ordered all marijuana dispensaries without a 
licence to shut down by Friday

In the final days before the City of Vancouver's deadline for
unsuccessful marijuana dispensary applicants to shut down, some
rejected shop owners said they plan to stay open and "stick to their

B.C. Pain Society owner Chuck Varabioff was one of 176 who applied
last year for a dispensary licence. Then, he was one of 62 rejected
applicants to appeal to Vancouver's Board of Variance, and in
February, his appeal was one of the first heard.

The appeal was unsuccessful, and Varabioff received a 60-day notice
from the city advising him to close his Commercial Drive operation by
this Friday.

But, he said Monday, "I'm operating now, I'm going to be operating
Sunday, I'm going to be operating next week, and I'm going to be
operating on Christmas Day."

Varabioff said city employees told him he could expect bylaw fines for
operating without a business licence.

"They wouldn't tell me how much (the fines will be), but if they want
to come in, I will hand them 30 postdated cheques for the next month
and I'll pay my fines," he said.

Cannabis advocate Jodie Emery said: "I'm pretty sure that a lot of
(the dispensaries) are going to refuse to close. Even though there is
a deadline date of the 29th, a lot of them will remain open because
they feel protected by court orders and decisions in the past."

The Board of Variance is scheduled to hear dozens of additional
appeals from rejected owners between now and November.

Eggs Canna's hearing is set for July 27, and owner Oana Nicoara said
she doesn't want to battle city hall.

But she's "between a rock and a hard place," she said, and hopes to
stay open for the next three months while she awaits her appeal
hearing. "If we're not a danger to the public ... I think the city
should at least allow us to have our day in court," Nicoara said.

Suspending operations for three months would likely put Eggs Canna out
of business, Nicoara said.

"If bylaw officers show up and they're going to ticket us, we're
prepared to take on the fines," she said.

Based on what Nicoara has heard from the Cannabis Growers of Canada,
an organization representing about 20 Vancouver dispensaries, she
said: "I think the general consensus is we're going to kind of all
stick together, and we're going to stick to our guns on this."

So far, the city has approved seven development permits and is
reviewing an additional 15 applications.

Lindsay Bell, manager of West 4th Avenue's Buddha Barn, said the
store's management team was "super-happy" to be one of the first
dispensaries to receive a development permit.

But, Bell said, they're not celebrating the other dispensaries'
rejections, even though Buddha Barn will welcome their customers "with
open arms."

"We'll definitely be getting a bit busier, which is nice as well. We
don't mind that," Bell said.

Recently, new customers have visited Buddha Bar reporting that their
previous dispensary has either shut down or warned them of impending
closure, Bell said.

Some dispensary owners plan to cease operation this week to comply
with the deadline, said Ian Dawkins, executive director of the
Cannabis Growers of Canada. That includes Cannpassion, a four-year-old
dispensary on Kingsway whose owner, Kris Mudliar, was described by
Dawkins as "probably the most ethical, the most transparent, with the
best business practices of my members."

Mudliar will close Cannpassion this Thursday, Dawkins said, to be in
compliance with the deadline.

CGC members "are torn between needing to help their patients and
wanting to follow the law," Dawkins said. "All of them want to play by
the rules, all of them want to be good corporate citizens. But they're
also protecting patients."

- - With files from Rafe Arnott
- ---
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