Pubdate: Fri, 12 Aug 2016
Source: Penticton Herald (CN BC)
Page: A4
Copyright: 2016 The Okanagan Valley Group of Newspapers
Author: Joe Fries


Fines totalling $1,000 have so far failed to persuade the operator of 
a medical marijuana dispensary in Penticton to give up on the 
business of bud, which another South Okanagan community has now 
banned outright.

"It's business as usual. People are coming by. Everybody's so happy 
that things are back to normal," said Jukka Laurio, owner of the Rush 
In and Finish Cafe on Westminster Avenue.

City bylaw officers started off with two weekly fines of $250 before 
moving to a $500 weekly penalty for operating without a business 
licence, the cancellation of which was confirmed by council following 
an appeal hearing July 19.

Laurio said he paid the first fine, but is now discussing with his 
lawyer what to do about the others and more that will come in the 
future, all of which he views as a cost of business and the price of 
making a point.

"It's all about the people that are coming to the shop, and without 
their support and without their buying stuff, I wouldn't be able to 
pay the fines," Laurio explained.

Penticton Mayor Andrew Jakubeit said the city is considering 
ratcheting up its enforcement efforts by fining Laurio on a daily basis.

"We can't have businesses stick their finger up at us and not have 
any consequences," he said.

However, council is also walking a fine line in what has become the 
decidedly grey area of medical marijuana policy; the federal 
government is expected later this month to issue revised regulations 
around medical users' access to cannabis.

Jakubeit said the city's plans for dealing with the Rush In and 
Finish Cafe will be further clarified in September after council 
receives a report from staff outlining how other communities have 
dealt with the issue.

"At that time, we'll figure out how we want to proceed," the mayor said.

Two other marijuana dispensaries in Penticton that also had their 
business licences suspended are expected to appear before council 
Monday night for their own appeal hearings.

Meanwhile, local politicians in Osoyoos on Tuesday approved by a 3-2 
vote a bylaw that imposes an outright ban on pot shops in that community.

"The rezoning and not issuing of business licences to storefront 
operations was recommended by our staff and by our lawyers," Mayor 
Sue McKortoff said in a statement.

"We will deal with the issue further when the federal government 
changes the laws. (Marijuana) is illegal at this point."

Couns. Mike Campol and CJ Rhodes were the dissenting votes.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom