Pubdate: Fri, 14 Oct 2016
Source: Nelson Star (CN BC)
Copyright: 2016 Black Press
Author: Chelsea Novak


Rossland Dispensary is the first business of its kind in the Golden
City, opening the same week that Nelson city council moved forward
with an amendment to prohibit marijuana dispensaries in all zones of
Nelson. The Queen City currently has seven dispensaries, all of which
operate without a business license, since Nelson won't issue them to
illegal businesses.

But the City of Rossland has taken a different approach, and Rossland
Dispensary is operating with a business license.

"Our stance is as it's a retail business - that's how we classify it -
the city bylaws that relate to it areĀ… a business license bylaw and a
zoning bylaw, and none of the city's bylaws - either the zoning or the
business license - specifically state that a business is required to
be federally legal," says Stacey Lightbourne, planner and GIS
technician for the City of Rossland. "So we have taken the position
that because our bylaws don't say anything about it, it's not up to us
to enforce a federal law."

Before opening his business, Jeff Weaver, owner of Rossland
Dispensary, approached the mayor who referred him to city staff, who
then researched how other municipalities were handling
dispensaries."Some had refused to issue business licenses on the basis
that it's not federally legal, and in most of those cases they
actually had something written in their business license bylaw that
stated that,"says Lightbourne.

Nelson was one of those municipalities. But although the dispensaries
aren't licensed and may soon be prohibited through zoning, Nelson
hasn't done anything to shut them down either. Nor have Nelson police.

"If we were to find that they are selling to clients for non-medical
use or to those that claim medical use but have not gone through the
proper federal process, we could certainly enforce, which could
include a search through the search warrant process," Nelson's police
chief Paul Burkart recently told the Nelson Star.

Weaver also spoke with the Trail RCMP detachment before opening, and
while they certainly didn't give him permission to operate in
Rossland, he has no reason to believe they'll be shutting him down, so
long as he follows a few stipulations.

"First and foremost, no sale to minors. Absolutely no congregating
around the establishment.There's no smoking on the premises, or in and
around the establishment. You have to have a medical prescription;
we're not just selling marijuana over the counter. You have to have a
prescription from a health practitioner," explains Weaver. "And number
four, that we have good neighbour agreements with everyone in the
building, and that I go and engage all of my neighbours that I can,
and explain what I'm doing, which I've done."

Weaver opened a dispensary in Rossland because he says he saw a need.
"The need was there. I kind of watched what was happening in Nelson
with a lot of excitement, and people were waiting for one here."

He also acknowledged that the Liberal government's announcement that
it would introduce legislation legalizing marijuana in spring 2017 had
something to do with it. "I've not been in this industry very long.
I'm certainly risk adverse, so watching the Liberal government come to
power I think gave people a little bit more leeway to work with the
police, because they're ultimately the people that are tolerating the
dispensaries being opened," he said.

"Everybody is hoping that the dispensary model will stick around. I
think in British Columbia we have a better chance of that happening
than any other province in Canada, because dispensaries have been
established in this province for a very long time," added Weaver. "We
wanted to get in early, and kind of establish ourselves, and show the
community that this is not anything to fear."

Weaver is happy to speak with anyone who has questions or concerns
about his business.

- - With files from Bill Metcalfe
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