Pubdate: Mon, 27 Feb 2017
Source: Daily Courier, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 The Okanagan Valley Group of Newspapers
Author: Ron Seymour
Page: A1


A loophole that has allowed for the proliferation of pot shops in West
Kelowna should be closed, city council will hear Tuesday.

A new bylaw proposes that non-profit societies operating an enterprise
with the expectation of profit would be required to have a business

Currently, West Kelowna does not require non-profit societies to
obtain a business licence before opening, say, a thrift store.

But pot shop operators have taken advantage of the situation by
forming non-profit societies, then opening a business to sell
so-called medical marijuana.

About six pot shops have opened in West Kelowna without getting a
business licence, Mayor Doug Findlater said Sunday.

"We're trying to close this loophole," he said.

Council is likely to give first reading to the bylaw change and then
forward it to a public hearing for citizen comment. if it's ultimately
adopted by council, the operators of the unlicensed pot shops would
need to seek a business licence.

But that request would likely be rejected, because RCMP say it is
illegal to sell marijuana, even to those who have a federal licence to
use the drug.

"There's no such thing as having tolerance for marijuana
dispensaries," West Kelowna RCMP Staff Sgt. Lesli Roseberry said last
month. "Simply put, these dispensaries are illegal."

Although the pot shops - four in downtown Westbank and two in the
Stevens Road area - have been in existence for some time, they
wouldn't qualify for any kind of grandfathering when seeking a
business licence, Findlater said.

"I can't see how you can grandfather something that's illegal," he

Police in other communities, including Kelowna, have raided pot shops
and charged their operators with a variety of drug offences.

The federal government is expected to unveil its plan to legalize
marijuana use sometime this year. For now, though, police and local
authorities say they are acting within the scope of existing law.

West Kelowna is also taking measures to ensure pot is sold only from
licensed growers based in industrial areas, or through pharmacies,
once the drug is legalized.

"I know some communities are moving more slowly on this than others,
because they want to wait and see how it all shakes out when the
federal government announces its plan," Findlater said. "But what
happens if the federal government essentially downloads all this onto
municipalities? We want to be ready with a plan."
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