Pubdate: Sat, 12 Aug 2017
Source: Hamilton Spectator (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 The Hamilton Spectator
Author: Matthew Van Dongen
Page: A4


Supporters vow to fight bid to permanently close businesses

"They are looking to set a precedent. I hope they do..." -
Britney Guerra, Cloud Nine Owner

The city is escalating its battle with illegal storefront pot shops by
seeking a court injunction to shutter a popular downtown dispensary
and vapour lounge.

But owners and supporters of the Hamilton Village Dispensary and Cloud
Nine are vowing to fight to save the 275 King St. E businesses.

The injunction request obtained by The Spectator cites zoning and
bylaw violations in asking a judge to order the businesses permanently
closed. It also wants Hamilton police to be required to enforce the

The Village Dispensary - formerly Cannabis Culture - has been raided
by police more than once over illegal drug sales, but has always reopened.

"It's ridiculous. They're looking for any option they can to shut us
down," said landlord Conrad Floyd, who added he intends to fight the
court action alongside with his tenants.

"They are looking to set a precedent. I hope they do, because
eventually we (cannabis activists) win these fights," said Cloud Nine
owner Britney Guerra, who pointed to Vancouver's decision to license
marijuana dispensaries in that city while the federal government
slowly introduces new retail and production rules for pot.

Spokesperson Ann Lamanes said the city is "seeking compliance with
municipal bylaws" through the injunction but declined to give more
information because the matter is before the courts.

The injunction document, however, cites zoning violations as well as
"flagrant" and repeated bylaw infractions related to signage, property
standards and even the sale of chips and pop.

The owners and customers of around 20 retail medical marijuana pot
shops in Hamilton rallied at City Hall earlier this year to protest
the city's bylaw crackdown - which comes on top of regular police
raids to seize illegal drugs.

The growing number of storefront medical pot shops across Canada
remain illegal despite pending new federal law changes designed to
legalize marijuana and regulate production and distribution of the

Guerra - who owned the local Cannabis Culture until she was charged by
Toronto police earlier this year in a series of raids on the
cross-country chain - concedes the dispensary and cannabis lounge are
"not yet technically legal."

But she argued the city should license the outlets in the interim to
provide "badly needed" services to medical marijuana patients, as well
as a "safe space" in the vapour lounge. She pointed to an in-store
petition calling for licensing that she says has so far attracted
thousands of names as well as an online version.

Floyd noted he and his tenants are already fighting bylaw charges and
fines related to the city crackdown. "If you want to get regulatory
cash out of us, that's fine. But do it with licensing fees."

Guerra said she would love to meet with city politicians to find a
"mutually agreeable solution" - but, otherwise, she'll keep up the
fight. "This is a movement and we support each other."
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MAP posted-by: Matt