West Kelowna pot shops facing fines to stay open

West Kelowna pot shops facing fines to stay open

Five of the six marijuana dispensaries are defying orders to close and face $1,000/day fines

Five of the six marijuana dispensaries located in West Kelowna are defying the city’s order to shut down.

And, as a result, they are each facing hefty fines that, if left unpaid, could result in court action.

A week after the deadline the city gave the dispensaries to wrap up their operations in West Kelowna, only one has complied. So the city has started fining the dispensaries $1,000 a day each for contravening city bylaws.

According to the city, West Kelowna bylaw officers visited the six dispensaries Nov. 1 and only one said it has stopped dispensing marijuana.

Last month, the city cancelled the business license of two dispensaries operating in the city—Black Crow Herbals and The Healing Club.

During presentations to council in October, representatives of both Black Crow and The Healing Club asked council to hold off on any decision until it is known how the province plans to proceed with the distribution and retail of marijuana in B.C. once it is legalized in Canada by the federal government July 1, 2018.

West Kelowna has told the province it would like to see Victoria handle the sale of marijuana through government stores.

In making its decision to cancel the business licences, city council refused the request of the dispensaries representatives and said their business operations in West Kelowna must stop immediately.

A director of Black Crow—which also has a dispensary in Vernon—vowed to continue doing business in West Kelowna despite the cancellation of the business licence.

The city said at the time it was also writing to the four other dispensaries in West Kelowna—which operate as non-profit groups—telling them to stop selling marijuana by Nov. 1.

It’s not clear how long the city will continue to fine the dispensaries before taking them to court or referring the fines to a collection company.

The RCMP has told West Kelowna council in the past the operation of marijuana dispensaries is currently illegal. But rather than have to the police shut down the dispensaries following an investigation, council opted to go via the cancellation of the business licence route because it was quicker, said Coun. Bryden Winsby.

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