Business owner Jukka Laurio with some of his prized bud at his Westminster Avenue Herbal Greeen Apothecary shop. File photo

RCMP order three dispensaries to cease operations

Penticton RCMP ordered three dispensaries in town to cease operations or face the consequences

The Penticton RCMP ordered three dispensaries in town to cease operations or face the consequences.

Owner of Herbal Green Apothecary, Jukka Laurio, said three notices went out to local dispensaries. Two of the dispensaries were granted temporary use permits by the city, Okanagan Cannabanoid Therapy and Green Essence, while Laurio continued to operate without a permit.

Laurio planned to take the city to court, but said he is OK with the action coming from the federal government and the RCMP.

“I’m good with it. Up until now they weren’t putting any pressure on. The whole dispensary thing was being accepted. Now they’ve stepped up the game,” Laurio said. “I presume they have a plan in the works and are going to provide an alternative that should be palatable to the people. I’m willing to go along with the plan I trust that they’re trying.”

Laurio said he will sell off his remaining product and let the shop “fade away.” However, he does hold some concerns about where the market will shift.

“I don’t know what (customers) are going to do now. It’s going to go back out into the neighbourhoods and that kind of thing,” Laurio said.

City of Penticton Mayor Andrew Jakubeit said he was caught off-guard by the RCMP notices.

“It is fair to say it has been frustrating. We were asking for enforcement six to nine months ago, where were they then? Now there are bigger issues in the city including property crime and prolific offenders. They should be focusing on that instead of pot shops in my opinion,” said Jakubeit.

The city is still pursuing Laurio for fines he has incurred for operating without a business licence. Jakubeit said injunctive action is slated to be discussed on the council agenda next Tuesday. Since January, Laurio has been accumulating $500 for every day he is in operation. He already paid almost $14,000 in fines to the city in December, Jakubeit pointed out that proves just how lucrative the business of dispensaries is.

“Dispensaries have certainly been in the spotlight, not only in Penticton but elsewhere too. To date the federal government haven’t been helpful. RCMP hadn’t provided any enforcement. That is why the city allowed temporary permits that would end in June, to weed out the growing amount of dispensaries popping up throughout the city,” he said.

For now, Jakubeit said, the city has to sit back and wait for the federal government to make a move.

As do the dispensary owners. Laurio cited the recent news of the “Prince of Pot” Marc Emery and his wife Jodie getting charged with drug trafficking in Toronto and the shutdown of other dispensaries in the province as an indication of the federal governments plans.

Related: Pot activists Marc and Jodie Emery charged with drug offences

The letter warns the shops of the ramifications of business practices which do not comply with the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, citing current marijuana regulations in Canada.

It warns if Laurio continues to engage in distributing marijuana, the RCMP could take further action.

“I think it’s part of a larger plan on the federal government’s part. The RCMP answer to the federal government. So obviously the federal government is making some kind of move,” Laurio said. “I agree with what they’re doing.”

The federal government has previously announced the move toward regulation and legalization coming sometime in the spring.

“So if they’re going to do that they’re going to take control in the beginning. They’re using their authority for some reason,” Laurio said. “I believe they have a plan. I hope so.”

Laurio hopes to go along with the promised regulations when they make their appearance.

The Penticton RCMP have previously declined to comment on the dispensaries operating or the city’s endorsement, they have yet to respond for a comment to the Penticton Western News.

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