Pubdate: Fri, 22 Jul 2016
Source: Penticton Western (CN BC)
Copyright: 2016 Penticton Western


In a Solomon-like decision Tuesday, council separated out the issue 
of storefront marijuana sales from whether Jukka Laurio should have a 
business licence.

Laurio, who owns the Rush in and Finnish Cafe, has been selling 
cannabis products from his operation for about 15 months. After his 
business licence was suspended earlier this year, Laurio asked for a 
public hearing to appeal the decision to council, arguing there was a 
big demand for medical marijuana and that sales of the drug were in a 
grey area as Canada awaits promised legalization.

Council's decision to deny Laurio's business licence but give city 
staff 60 days to research regulations to govern medical marijuana 
dispensaries, as Vancouver introduced earlier this year, was one of 
the wisest decisions they could have made.

As Coun. Tarik Sayeed said, this is not a problem that is going to go 
away anytime soon, and the storefront operations do reduce street 
trafficking in marijuana. Laurio himself admitted to 45 years of 
selling weed, and intimate he isn't likely to stop, whether he does 
it quasi-legally through his cafe or not.

So far, governments and government agencies have shown show a 
preference to stay out of the fray, but that has only led to the 
proliferation of operations like Laurio's, which some city 
councillors felt was skirting more than just the regulations 
governing sale of cannabis.

If nothing else, Laurio and the three other storefront marijuana 
dispensaries have shown there is a demand in the community to be able 
to purchase in a safe environment, raising the question of where they 
are going to buy their pot?

Until the federal government comes back with legislation and decides 
whether marijuana sales are going to be treated like corn flakes, 
cognac or codeine, Penticton does need to lay out a plan for dealing 
with the dispensaries that are going to continue to pop up between 
now and whenever that day arrives.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom