Pubdate: Thu, 16 Feb 2017
Source: Hamilton Spectator (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 The Hamilton Spectator
Author: Nicole O'Reilly
Page: A3


City has issued cease-and-desist order and threatened fines up to

Medical marijuana dispensary owners, employees and patients gathered
outside City Hall Wednesday in protest of the city's crackdown against
the businesses and to call for regulation.

The rally was organized in response to "cease and desist" letters the
city sent to 17 medical marijuana dispensaries last week.

The letters cited zoning infractions and come with a warning of fines
up to $50,000, plus up to $25,000 per day after a conviction.

"We're looking for dispensary regulation," Britney Guerra, owner of
Cannabis Culture on King Street East, said while waving a giant
Canadian flag with a marijuana leaf in the centre as cars drove past
honking on Main Street West.

She pointed to regulations in other municipalities, such as Vancouver
- - where Cannabis Culture began - as examples of what could be done.
"It worked well there."

The dispensaries operate in an unregulated grey area with no governing
bylaws in Hamilton. They are against the law, but the federal
government has said legalization is on the horizon, with legislative
framework expected to be proposed this spring.

Licensing director Ken Leendertse says dispensaries are against the
law now, regardless of any future legalization. The bylaw crackdown
was in response to complaints from the downtown BIA.

Guerra said she tries to be a responsible business owner and
neighbour, adding that she's been told businesses like hers are
putting street dealers out of business.

Shane Hansen, who owns Royal Farmacy on King Street East, said the
bylaw crackdown will cripple smaller businesses, leaving only the
larger dispensaries open and able to sustain the fines.

"I have 900 patients that depend on me being there," he said, adding
that he's "willing to be a martyr" to keep his doors open.

One of those patients, Cory Kaus, said that before he discovered the
medical benefits of marijuana, he could barely get an hour's sleep a
night because of pain and nerve damage from a knee injury.

He has a prescription to access medicinal marijuana but says the
marijuana he can access from licensed providers (LPs) is not enough.

"I would have to smoke 25 grams a day," he said, adding that he finds
edibles, gel capsules and oils to be more effective, all which are not
available through LPs.

Kaus was previously connected to Brighter Moments Dispensary on King
Street East near Ferguson Avenue, which shuttered after police raided
it this past summer.

The cease and desist letters follow a warning in a memo the city's
bylaw department sent councillors last month.

Meanwhile, police continue to raid dispensaries in recent months,
including trafficking charges last week.
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MAP posted-by: Matt