Crackdown on Penticton marijuana shops moving forward

The City of Penticton is moving ahead with a crackdown on storefront marijuana shops setting up in the community.

Jukka Laurio in front of his Westminster Avenue café

Jukka Laurio in front of his Westminster Avenue café

The City of Penticton is moving ahead with a crackdown on storefront marijuana shops setting up in the community.

The Herbal Green Apothecary, associated with the Rush in and Finnish Café, was the first operation served with a notice of suspension on their business licence, and on June 29, Starbuds was also given a notice.

“We do know of three other ones, so those will be issued with warnings, probably within the week as well. From warning, we go to suspension and then we go to injunctive action,” said Tina Lee, communications officer for the City of Penticton.

Ken Kunka, the city’s building and permitting manager, said Starbuds is operating as a non-profit society, and had the mistaken impression that a society didn’t need a business licence. When Starbuds applied for a business licence, Kunka said, it was denied because it is not a permitted use under the city’s zoning bylaws. They have been issued a no occupancy notice, meaning the store is supposed to be completely closed to the public.

Kunka said two other operations selling marijuana are going to be put on notice Monday, and notified they have seven days to stop the illegal portions of their operations.

Jukka Laurio’s (owner of Rush in and Finnish Café) case is a little different, according to Kunka, since he was already operating the café legally and only began selling marijuana there after being unable to set up a separate operation next door.

“When his coffee shop licence came up for renewal, that’s when we sent him a notice saying we would not support the renewal and we would be looking at suspending his licence if he continued to sell the marijuana products,” said Kunka. “He continued on and that came in to full suspension of his business licence.”

The date hasn’t been set, but Laurio will have a chance to appeal to city council at a special public hearing, which is expected to occur sometime in the next two weeks.

“I look forward to addressing council and showing how this serves a community need,” said Laurio, noting that seniors comprise a large part of his clientele.

“I was actually surprised by how many there are and the age. My average customer age is about 60. We don’t even serve under 25,” said Laurio.

Canada sits at a crossroads, with the federal government promising legalization of marijuana at an undetermined future date, but in the meantime, current laws remain in force.

“In Canada, storefront sale of marijuana is not legal, it is only legal by mail, so we can’t issue a business licence for something that is contradictory to Canadian laws,” said Lee. Even when it is legalized, the city will still need to develop zoning and bylaws to deal with the shops.

Lee said the city is working in the background to prepare for eventual changes.

“I think a lot of cities are struggling with this right now,” said Lee. “I think everyone is expecting federal legislation to change, but until it does change, the city is really bound by what the current laws are.”

Laurio said shops like his are filling a need and a Supreme Court requirement the public have access to medicinal marijuana.

“They need access, there was no distribution system, the people stepped in and set up a distribution system,” said Laurio. “There are legal parties on both sides of this and you are sort of in the middle, trying to do people a favour more than anything else.

“I am sure there is much more action to be taken, but a frank discussion and some input from the public is all that is really required to get this issue settled.”

“The report we are preparing is not to debate your Canadian right to obtain medical marijuana,” said Kunka, who expects Laurio’s hearing to take place later in July. “We are just putting our report together to go to council. We want to make sure we do this right for both ourselves and our community.”

Just Posted

Renderings of what the skating rink could look like beside City Hall between Martin and Main in downtown Penticton. (Activate Penticton image)
Outdoor skating rink back at Penticton council

City staff recommend going forward with rink which could host 2022 BCHL’s 60th year celebration

Longtime SOWINS volunteer Diane Fru (far left) walks with members of her family as they Walk To End Abuse Sunday, June 13, 2021. South Okanagan Women In Needs Society (SOWINS) raised a record amount this year. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Walk to End Abuse in South Okanagan breaks fundraising record

More than $53,000 raised so far while the pandemic has increased need for SOWINS’ services

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Geordie Fife exits the dunk tank during 2017’s Discovery House Father’s Day festivities at Skaha Lake Park. The fundraiser helps raise awareness of the work done at the house and break down the stigma associated with addiction. (Western News File)
Discovery House Father’s Day fundraiser goes digital

The addiction recovery program will be rolling out videos ahead of the fundraiser

The proposed design of the five-storey building on Front Street. (City of Penticton)
Five-storey building proposed for Penticton’s Front Street

It will be the second time the proposal will head to council

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

(Heather Lueck image)
Crash north of Enderby knocks out power, slows Highway 97A traffic

A witness captured footage of a medical helicopter landing at the scene

Most Read