Pubdate: Thu, 02 Mar 2017
Source: Penticton Herald (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 The Okanagan Valley Group of Newspapers
Author: Joe Fries
Page: A1


Application denied because marijuana awareness group would be in same
building as illegal dispensary

The owner of a Penticton marijuana dispensary is now feeling the burn
from his decision to do business without proper permits. Jukka Laurio
applied to the city in December for a non-profit registration that
would allow the Association for Medical Marijuana Awareness to operate
out of the same building as his Herbal Green dispensary on Westminster

The purpose of the association is to "collect, organize and
disseminate information about medicinal cannabis products," according
to its submission to the city.

The non-profit registration, which would allow the group to carry out
other activities such as promotions and fundraising, was rejected by
city staff due to planned co-habitation with the dispensary.

"In order to get to the non-profit office, patrons would be required
to gain access through the illegal dispensary," explains a staff
report, which goes on to note that "issuing the registration would
give the appearance that the city has approved all activities taking
place on these premises."

Laurio, who does double duty as the association's chairman and
proposed landlord, appealed to council Tuesday to overturn staff's

"I have three entrances to that building. I have a pile of drywall, I
have a stack of two-by-fours, I can create any kind of construction
you want," he said. "I can totally separate it entirely, but that
would require the issuance of a building permit, and that's difficult
to obtain."

Laurio went on to note the association is simply looking for an office
space where volunteers can do their work, which he stressed repeatedly
is independent of the dispensary.

"They're separate and distinct operations," he said. The association
"has nothing to do with the sale of marijuana."

Council disagreed, and it appears Laurio is now paying the price for
flouting the city's newly created system of temporary-use permits that
in December authorized two dispensaries and rejected five others,
including Herbal Green. "I guess my concern is that there doesn't seem
to be any regard - or even perhaps it's more disregard - for the fact
that (the dispensary) is operating illegally, and we're just supposed
to allow it because the non-profit would be a good thing," said Coun.
Judy Sentes. "I find that inappropriate."

Council later voted unanimously to uphold the staff decision to deny
the non-profit registration.

As of Wednesday, Herbal Green had $23,000 in outstanding fines against
it, with the total growing by $500 each day.

Staff is expected to report back to council at its March 21 meeting
with options for legal action to shut down unlicensed dispensaries in
the city.
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MAP posted-by: Matt