Pubdate: Wed, 19 Jul 2017
Source: Penticton Western (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 Penticton Western
Author: Steve Kidd


Penticton city council has decided the experiment with medical
marijuana dispensaries is over.

By a count of 4-2, council voted to not extend the temporary use
permits granted to Okanagan Cannabinoid Therapy and Green Essence in
December, and instead work with them on a consent order that would see
the businesses operate as wellness centres.

A wellness centre would allow them to sell paraphernalia and related
items, but not marijuana itself. They would also be able to guide
people on obtaining legal, prescription access and lobby for the

Couns. Max Picton and Tarik Sayeed were the dissenting votes, with
Sayeed coming down on the side of ensuring access to marijuana for
people in need.

Picton said the two marijuana dispensaries served a need in the
community, and the six-month temporary use permits issued in December
constituted a useful trial.

"I did not receive negative feedback from the community," said Picton.
"My view is the TUPs should be extended."

Coun. Judy Sentes, who previously supported the dispensaries, changed
sides. She originally supported the TUP, she said, because she had
empathy for the people expressing a need for medical marijuana.

"I thought the TUP would get us through to a time as the federal
government made it legal," said Sentes, expressing dismay at the
length of time the legalization process is taking - it is not expected
to happen before mid-2018. "The way that it is now I think this is the
only resolution we can do."

This is the second time extending the TUPs came before council. The
discussion was deferred from the July 4 meeting after the debate
resulted in a number of 3-3 ties, with one councillor absent.

Staff continued to recommend against renewing the TUPs, as they did on
July 4, and in December. Staff's latest recommendation was for staff
to work with legal counsel to permit Green Essence and Okanagan
Cannabinoid Therapy to obtain compliance as a wellness centre through
a consent order under the civil action process. With that, staff also
recommend that council resolve to prohibit marijuana dispensaries in
the City of Penticton until such time as the federal and provincial
governments lawfully permit such use.

One of the staff arguments against the permits was the possibility of
the city exposing itself to liability. According to the staff report,
the city's insurance provider advised there is no clear cut answer
whether the city would be covered against legal action.

"It was suggested that should an incident occur, in all likelihood the
city may be covered for negligence," reads the report. "Although the
risk may be low, the consequence of an unfortunate event would be high."

The main function of the wellness centre is the lobbying and the
discussion around the future status of legalization.

Anthony Haddad, director of development services, said negotiating the
consent orders with the two businesses will take about two to three

The staff recommendation also covers an attempt to conclude two legal
actions involving a third dispensary, Herbal Green, which has been
operating without a temporary use permit. The two actions are the
city's petition for civil injunction relief, and the second a judicial
review of the city's decision to grant TUPs to other dispensaries but
not Herbal Green.

"Herbal Green will be offered a formal offer to conclude the legal
actions without further costs by entering into a consent order as a
wellness centre. The staff recommendation maintains a consistent
approach with all three dispensaries."
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