Kelowna reaffirms that marijuana dispensaries are illegal

Some dispensary owners admit they don’t know what to think after the City of Kelowna amended its zoning bylaw Tuesday in an attempt to dictate where dispensaries can and cannot set up shop.

Some might see the amendment as a formality — reiterating that the sale of marijuana from storefronts is illegal.

The city said the amendment is meant to send the dispensaries a message.

“If you own a dispensary and you are doing storefront dispensing of marijuana, I think that you should rethink the model that you’ve chosen and maybe take a step back and try to focus on a different business model rather than retailing marijuana until we know what the rules are going to be from the federal and provincial governments,” the city’s community planning manager Ryan Smith said.

But that doesn’t mean dispensaries won’t be allowed to legally operate within the city.

“Probably what we’ll try to do is give council the control over what locations are permitted and what are not through the zoning process much like we do with retail liquor stores. To add a new retail liquor store in a neighbourhood, you need to do a minor rezoning and it could be the same for marijuana in the future,” Smith said.

Kelowna councillor, Ryan Donn, feels the bylaw amendment is a step in the right direction and will help set the stage for a discussion between the city and dispensaries.

“I would suggest that last night’s (Tuesday’s) meeting was a reminder that the law of the land is this — and we’re supportive of the law of the land. There is a change going on but let’s allow us to have a community conversation as to where they should be before you start changing your business model and start selling recreational marijuana because it’s going to change,” Donn said.

Kelowna Be Kind dispensary owner, Bob Kay, admits he’s still trying to wrap his head around the amendment and it will be business as usual at his shop despite the warning from council.

“I do have a business licence issued by the city. If I was doing something wrong and there was complaints then I wouldn’t be here. So I think we’re going to continue doing what we’re doing. And it’s also based on membership. If people don’t come here, then we’re not here. That’s how it works,” Kay said.

There are currently nine marijuana dispensaries operating with the city of Kelowna.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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