A lineup of cannabis strands shows some of the variety offered up at Jukka Laurio’s former dispensary Herbal Green Apothecary — the final dispensary expected to sign an agreement with the City of Penticton to shut down its pot sales. (Dustin Godfrey/Western News)

City hopes to clear smoke with one last dispensary

Two of three have signed consent orders to convert to wellness centres, rather than dispensaries

The City of Penticton hopes to have all three dispensaries in town officially signed onto agreements to convert to wellness centres by the end of the month.

Green Essence on Martin St. and Okanagan Cannabinoid Therapy on Westminster Ave. have both signed consent orders with city hall to convert their businesses into wellness centres, with just Herbal Green Apothecary remaining.

“But (we are) hopeful that we will be able to come to a resolution pretty quickly on that one,” development services director Anthony Haddad said.

Related: Dispensary owner bows out of battle with city

Herbal Green’s owner Jukka Laurio told the Western News in late August, he had already been in the process of converting the shop to a wellness centre, intending to sell hemp and natural products.

But two-and-a-half months later, Haddad said the two are still working together to finalize a deal on the conversion.

“We’re required to make sure that he signs the consent order and come to an agreement on the appropriate wording within the consent order, and that’s the process that we’re in right now,” Haddad said.

“We’re anticipating that the agreements get signed shortly.”

Related: City of Penticton, dispensary taking battle to court

That consent order agreement would be one of the steps toward ending litigation between the city and Laurio, which arose after the city approved the other two dispensaries for temporary use permits last December, but denied Laurio’s permit.

Laurio refused to close the store, leading to increasing fines, eventually reaching $500 per day. Haddad said the total sum of the tickets amounted to $30,500, which Laurio still owes the city.

On top of the tickets, the city took Laurio to court to seek an injunction to close the dispensary, which Haddad said is still active in the courts. Laurio may be expected to pay those fines off before the city closes the court file.

Related: Marijuana dispensary closing

Over the summer, at the end of the six-month temporary use permit timelines, the two remaining dispensaries recognized by the city were denied extensions to the permits, with councillors citing a lack of direction from the federal government on legalization at the time.

Haddad said since the city began working with Laurio on the consent order, he has been co-operating with staff.

“It’s obviously taken some time to get to a point where we’re close to having an agreement signed, and we’re hopeful that we should be in a position to have the consent order signed and finalized very shortly,” he said.

He said he was hoping to finalize that within the next couple of weeks.



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