Pubdate: Wed, 31 Aug 2016
Source: Delta Optimist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2016 Lower Mainland Publishing Group Inc
Author: Sandor Gyarmati


Ruling Shuts Dispensary on Scott Road, but It Re-Opens Days Later 
Under a Different Name

The B.C. Supreme Court has ordered a medical marijuana dispensary in 
North Delta shut down.

In a ruling earlier this month, and posted on the court's website 
last Thursday, Justice Shelley Fitzpatrick ruled WeeMedical 
Dispensary Society didn't have a business licence and contravened 
Delta's zoning bylaw.

Since a permanent statutory injunction preventing the dispensary from 
operating was put in effect earlier this month, the store obeyed the 
order, shut down, but then re-opened a few days later under a different name.

The store now operates under the name WeeCare Med Society, which has 
now filed a statement of defence and will have its case go before the 
court next month.

The operation opened in April in the 9500-block of Scott Road and had 
applied for a business licence, but was refused. WeeMedical, which 
operates dispensaries in several locations in the province, was taken 
to court after an order to cease operations was refused.

Society director May Joan Liu had claimed the dispensary is a 
non-profit society and is not required to obtain a business licence.

A bylaw inspector regularly visited the site to issue tickets as long 
as the business continued to operate. The fines were initially $200 a 
day, however, amendments to Delta's business licence bylaw approved 
in late May increased the fines to $1,000 a day. The fines amounted 
to close to $12,000, an amount the operator indicated they will appeal.

Liu appeared before Delta council earlier this summer, urging civic 
politicians to approve the business licence for the WeeMedical 
Dispensary Society.

"Since the federal government has already announced that they are 
decriminalizing the use of marijuana and will be setting regulations 
in spring of 2017, allowing WeeMedical to continue operating will be 
considered a progressive step forward in the direction of the future 
and not backwards where the only way to access medical marijuana for 
most people is in the streets where they put themselves in danger in 
some cases," Liu stated in a letter to Delta.

However, in her reasons for judgement, Fitzpatrick stated, "It is 
well known that the federal government has indicated that it intends 
to take a different approach in terms of marijuana generally, if not 
medical marijuana. I have no idea where the federal government is in 
that process.

It appears that it is moving in that direction, but when it might get 
to that point is anyone's guess. Further, it is as yet unknown what 
any new legal regime will look like. It may be, at the end of the 
day, that operations such as this will not be offside the criminal 
law. However, as a judge of this court, I can only address the 
situation now in terms of what the current law is, not what it might 
be in the future."

The justice added that Delta "is within its rights based on the 
current law to take the position that WeeMedical is operating an 
illegal business."

The dispensary was slapped with a permanent statutory injunction that 
restrains it from operating.

Two years ago, Delta passed a bylaw amendment prohibiting the 
production, storage, research or sale of medical marijuana anywhere 
in the municipality. The bylaw initially applied to all zones, 
including agricultural, although applications to grow the product 
would be considered on a case-by-case basis.

The idea was to keep any potential operations within industrial 
zones. Two applications to set up grow operations in those areas 
would go on to receive approval, but one has since been abandoned.

The provincial government, meanwhile, struck down part of the bylaw 
that prohibited the production of medical pot of farmland. So far, 
there have been no applications.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom