Pubdate: Wed, 05 Jul 2017
Source: Penticton Herald (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 The Okanagan Valley Group of Newspapers
Author: Amanda Short
Page: A4


With federal legalization of marijuana looming somewhere on the
horizon, Penticton city council decided Tuesday to deal with local
sales of the drug later.

Staff had recommended the council not renew temporary use permits that
expired June 30 for two dispensaries, Okanagan Cannabinoid Therapy on
Westminster Avenue and Green Essence on Martin Street, but elected
officials decided to punt instead.

The meeting was a back-and-forth between councillors, city staff and
marijuana proponents who were in attendance, and evolved into a
philosophical debate around access to cannabis.

Coun. Tarik Sayeed said the city owes its citizens the ability to
continue safely accessing the medical marijuana that many use for pain

"I don't want our citizens to go out into the streets," he said. "My
reasoning is to go with moral obligation. That's why I think it's the
right thing to do for the patients."

His statements were met with applause from the gallery.

Coun. Campbell Watt was stoutly against allowing the dispensaries to
remain open in stark opposition to federal law.

"What other federal laws would we be willing to let slide because we
believe it to be morally correct?" he asked. "Let's not renew and
investigate so we can come up with a process that works for everyone."

Council earlier heard from Kevin Adams, owner of Cannabinoid Therapy,
and Ryan Burghall from Green Essence.

"The average age of my clientele is males in their 40s and females
between 55 and 70," said Adams.

"The main reason people come is twofold, one is for pain management
and the other for cancer. We see more of those people every month."

He added many seniors come to him with prescriptions from area

"What are we supposed to tell our patients?" asked Burghall. "Our
oldest patient is 94 years old; she has problems sleeping."

During the course of the meeting, there was frequent applause and
grumbling from the packed public gallery, as well as an interruption
from Herbal Green Apothecary owner Jukka Laurio, who is taking the
city to court over its decision to deny him a permit and had to be
asked repeatedly to sit down.

As the issue of marijuana legalization is worked on at the federal
level, the current legal state of affairs is that storefront
dispensaries are not a legally recognized means of obtaining it, for
medical use or otherwise.

Currently, the only legal way to obtain marijuana in Canada is through
the mail from one of 50 licensed producers with a doctor's

Council will reconvene July 18 to continue to discuss the issue.
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