Penticton gives the nod to marijuana dispensaries

The City of Penticton approved two of seven applications for permits to open storefront medical marijuana dispensaries.

Kevin Adams

After months of discussion, both in the community and at the council table, the issue of marijuana dispensaries was still a problem for council to come to a decision on, but ended up approving two operations.

The City of Penticton received seven applications from groups wanting to operate medical marijuana dispensaries in the city. Council decided to review all seven applications at their Dec. 6 meeting, but after hearing the first one, Okanagan Cannabinoid Therapy (351 Westminster Ave. West) councillors remained divided the best way to proceed.

Coun. Campbell Watt questioned whether council shouldn’t be deciding whether they want to issue temporary use licenses in the first place.

“I am going to be opposed to this until it is legal,” said Watt, explaining that he understood the need for medical marijuana and supported it, but storefront sales of the drug remained illegal.

Watt was supported by Coun. Helena Konanz, who said she should have done her homework and wasn’t qualified to judge whether or not an operator should get a permit. Homework, she explained, would have required her to go into each of the shops that are still operating — despite having their business licenses suspended over the summer — and trying their product to see if it made her ill.

“That is the only way I can make a judgment on every single one of these separately,” said Konanz. “I need to wait and see because I can’t make that decision myself.”

The first try to approve a six-month temporary use permit, in this case for Okanagan Cannabinoid Therapy, failed with a 3-3 vote: Jakubeit, Couns. Andre Martin and Max Picton in favor, and Konanz, Watt and Coun. Judy Sentes opposed — Coun. Tarik Sayeed was not present. A later motion to defer any further work until federal legislation or guidance was handed down also failed, prompting Sentes to change her position.

Sentes chose to support a second motion from Coun. Max Picton, that OCT should be given a six-month temporary use permit. Picton also made it clear he only wanted to support operators who had proven they were willing to co-operate with the city.

OCT became the first to receive a permit, with Sentes’ vote switch breaking the tie. But before council got to that point, there was considerable discussion about the difficulties.

Mayor Andrew Jakubeit admitted that it is difficult to choose or qualify the operators and that he had misgivings. Jakubeit also referenced an interview where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said marijuana sales remain illegal and he expects the laws to be enforced.

But, Jakubeit continued, the federal government and the RCMP are not following through.

Watt clarified his position that he doesn’t oppose medical marijuana, but is concerned about giving an advantage to businesses that opened before it was legal, and wanted to wait until direction comes from the federal government.

“I am not going to be able to support any illegal business in Penticton,” said Konanz, again supporting Watt’s position.

Martin argued that bigger cities were finding ways to make it work, and Penticton should do likewise.

By doing nothing, I don’t think is solving the issue,” said Martin. “I haven’t heard that many complaints personally.”

Jakubeit pointed out that not taking action still left the city with a problem.

“Are we for the next six months going to continue to turn a blind eye, or turn to injunctive engagement,” said Jakubeit.

After approving OCT’s permit, council moved through the other applications quickly, also approving the application from Green Essence, operating on Martin Street. Avitas Pharmaco, which had followed previous council direction, was turned down, primarily due to their proximity to a school.

Other Okanagan communities are dealing with this issue, particularly Kelowna and Vernon, but with these approvals, Penticton becomes the first community to adopt a regulated approach.

Just Posted

Celebrating National Indigenous Peoples Day with a powwow

Indigenous dance takes place at the Shatford Centre on June 21

Penticton cyclist injured in hit-and-run in critical condition

Jesse Birkedal was injured in a hit-and-run while cycling on Eastside Road

Vehicle smashes sign and cars in Summerland school parking lot

Driver of a Ford Expedition lost control, crashing into two other vehicles

Top classic car show cruises back into Penticton

Peach City Beach Cruise runs June 21 to 23 in Penticton

Update: Penticton fire in mop up mode at Greenwood Forest Products

An employee said as he was coming in for his shift at around 4:39 a.m. he heard a loud explosion

PHOTOS: Elusive ‘ghost whale’ surfaces near Campbell River

Ecotourism operator captures images of the rare white orca

Man arrested during Kelowna police stand off

Water is flooding Highway 33 in Kelowna Monday afternoon

Judas Priest rocks the Okanagan

Judas Priest is on a 32 date tour of North America

Victoria mom describes finding son ‘gone’ on first day of coroners inquest into overdose death

Resulting recommendations could change handling of youth records amidst the overdose crisis

Dash-cam video in trial of accused cop killer shows man with a gun

Footage is shown at trial of Oscar Arfmann, charged with killing Const. John Davidson of Abbotsford

Suicide confirmed in case of B.C. father who’d been missing for months

2018 disappearance sparked massive search for Ben Kilmer

Eight U.S. senators write to John Horgan over B.C. mining pollution

The dispute stems from Teck Resources’ coal mines in B.C.’s Elk Valley

Restrictive policies affecting labour mobility for care aides in B.C.

‘I had to take two competency exams and pay over $1,400,’ said an Okanagan care aide

Threats charge against Surrey’s Jaspal Atwal stayed

Atwal, 64, was at centre of controversy in 2018 over his attendance at prime minister’s reception in India

Most Read