The West Kelowna store front of Black Crow Herbals, a marijuana dispensary the City of West Kelowna is planning to cancel a business license for. - Image: West Kelowna

2017’s Top Stories: Cities battle marijuana dispensaries

One of the top stories of the year was the results of the pending legalization of marijuana

With marijuana legalization on the horizon in 2018, local governments moved to prepare for it by stepping up their battle with pot dispensaries in 2017.

Both the City of Kelowna and West Kelowna took steps to shut down marijuana dispensaries operating in their respective city’s this year.

In West Kelowna the city first cancelled business licences of several dispensaries they said were operating illegally in the city limits. When that failed to work the city moved to the courts, filing a petition to the court asking that the shops be forced to close down.

Dispensary operators appeared at West Kelowna council during the year with one representative saying they would keep operating.

“We are not going to abandon our patients, we are going to be here for our patients,” said representative Selina Lau.

Meanwhile, the City of Kelowna followed suit after West Kelowna’s court petition, filing suit in the courts over what they claimed was the illegal operation of dispensaries within city limits

Kelowna corporate and protective services director Rob Mayne said the move to shut down the illegal operations was made after letters telling the businesses to stop were ignored.

“We felt a court injunction would be the quickest way to achieve compliance,” said Mayne.

The dispensaries included in the legal action are Ross’s Gold, Weeds, TLC Herbal Meds, Trichrome Valley RX and Starbuds, said Mayne.

One dispensary started an online petition looking for the public’s support.

In the petition, spokesperson Rob Lindsay says the dispensaries are a medical service that many locals rely on as part of their cancer treatment program and the city’s legal action flies in the face of a Supreme Court ruling that advocates the accessibility to medical cannabis.

“It also is a significant waste of community resources considering that cannabis is slated for legalization on July 1, 2018,” he said.

With the disputes in Kelowna and West Kelowna continuing, near the end of the year the province of B.C. announced its distribution method for cannabis, saying it will set the legal smoking age at 19 to coincide with the minimum age for alcohol and tobacco and that pot will be sold in both private businesses and in government run stores.

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