Laurio loses another appeal

Laurio loses another appeal

The owner of a Penticton marijuana dispensary wasn’t surprised when city council denied his appeal

Jukka Laurio said it didn’t come as a surprise when council turned down an appeal on non-profit registration for his Association for Medical Marijuana Awareness.

“I have an expectation of being turned down. I just do the process, the procedure, the way it is supposed to be done,” said Laurio.

City staff denied Laurio’s non-profit registration application in a Dec. 23 letter, and council supported that decision at their Feb. 7 meeting. Laurio wasn’t present at that hearing, mistakenly believing it would take place at council’s 6 p.m. meeting, so council gave him another chance to appeal at a Feb. 28 special meeting.

On Dec. 19, just two weeks after council turned down his application for a Temporary Use Permit (TUP) to operate his Herbal Greens medical marijuana dispensary, Laurio applied to register his society with the city.

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Laurio, who describes himself as the de facto chair of the Association for Medical Marijuana Awareness, continues to operate Herbal Greens despite the lack of a TUP and a business licence from the city.

City staff were concerned the non-profit was a way around the TUP denial, but did confirm it was a separate operation intended to collect and spread knowledge about medical marijuana. However, they remained concerned the only access would be through Herbal Greens.

“Mr. Laurio has shown a disregard to follow both federal and city regulations and continues to operate the dispensary in the same premise where the proposed non-profit will be located,” said Ken Kunka, building and permitting manager.

More: Some dispensaries ‘thumbing their noses’ at the city rules

“It exists. Where do you want me to put it? It’s got to go someplace,” said Laurio, explaining he saw it as a convenient location, making use of space he had available.”

Council voted unanimously to continue supporting the denial, so Laurio said he plans to re-submit the application, using his Rush in and Finnish Café as the address.

“The only thing they could do was complain about the location, so I am going to give them a new location,” said Laurio.

The city continues to issue Laurio a daily $500 fine for operating Herbal Greens in defiance of the city policy and regulations.

“These ones I am going to accumulate. They can’t actually fine me for anything, it’s all smoke and mirrors. There is nothing written down, there is no standards, no nothing,” said Laurio, who contends the city’s business licence bylaws don’t apply to his dispensary.

“They don’t have a business licence available for an apothecary. There no bylaws for dispensaries.”

Laurio said he is willing to comply with standards set by the city, but despite asking, he hasn’t been given anything to comply with.

“I will meet whatever standard they want, and all of us that meet that standard should be permitted to go ahead. You can’t just decide these people are good and these people aren’t,” said Laurio. “The objective is to get them to write up some bylaws, to set some standards. I am not going to shut the dispensary, it doesn’t make any difference now.”