Pubdate: Wed, 20 Jul 2016
Source: Daily Courier, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2016 The Okanagan Valley Group of Newspapers
Author: Joe Fries
Page: A2


Owner of medical marijuana dispensary in Penticton defiant after
losing appeal to have business licence restored

Moments after city council vaporized his business licence Tuesday, the
owner of a Penticton medical marijuana dispensary vowed he won't be
deterred from continuing to supply his clients.

"God no. Not now," said Jukka Laurio, owner of the Rush In and Finish
Cafe on Westminster Avenue.

Council voted 5-2 at the special meeting to cancel the cafe's licence
on the advice of city staff, who this spring collected evidence that
Laurio was selling marijuana there.

He was never shy about his operation, though, and granted interviews
to local media about it as far back as last November.

In his appeal to council, Laurio said he has 3,000 clients, each of
whom has come to rely on him for cannabis in various forms to treat
their ailments.

"I'm here today for them, for their right to buy their medication, so
they can have the medication that gives them the relief that they
want," he said.

"They're regular, law-abiding citizens, and to require them to go out
to the criminal underground to purchase a medicinal product, that's
just plain wrong when it is available to them in a nice, safe location
to which they can come in comfort."

Ken Kunka, the city's building and permitting manager, advised council
it simply cannot allow a business to operate in contravention of
federal law - even though Ottawa has pledged to introduce legislation
to legalize marijuana next year.

"Under the current regulations, it is illegal to sell marijuana or
cannabis through storefront activity," said Kunka.

The lone votes against cancelling Laurio's licence came from Mayor
Andrew Jakubeit, who advocated a six-week postponement to gather more
information, and Coun. Tarik Sayeed, who urged colleagues to deal with
the rapidly evolving issue now.

"The problem is not going anywhere. The problem is still right here.
We need to regulate, we need to find a way to regulate it and help
businesses help the medical patients while we try to find a solution,"
said Sayeed.

"The reality is (Laurio) will still do business whether we cancel the
business licence or not, so it's not really solving anything."

"I'm not looking at this as a medical cannabis issue. I'm looking at
this as a business licence issue," replied Coun. Campbell Watt,
echoing the sentiments of the balance of his colleagues.

Coun. Helena Konanz later lobbied successfully to have staff report
back within 60 days with proposed regulations to govern medical
marijuana dispensaries as Vancouver has done.

But "right now, this business licence needs to be suspended or
cancelled until we as a council get together with some legal help and
look at what other communities are doing so we can bring back some
parameters to make it a safe business in the city," said Konanz.

At least three other marijuana dispensaries are operating in
Penticton, and all have received notices of business licence

Kunka said council's decision Tuesday will provide "clarity" for staff
in deciding how to enforce those suspensions.
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