Kimberley City Council will not be granting any more business licenses for medical marijuana licenses, at least not any time soon.
That was the decision Council came to this past Monday evening at their regular meeting, after a staff report was received.
Prior to that, the proponent, who had recently had her re-application denied, requested an opportunity to have her legal counsel speak again, but Council denied that request in a five to two vote. (Coun. Oakley and Kitto against).
Council then voted six to one (Oakley against) to follow the recommendation in the staff report, which is,
“That Council cease issuing business licenses to cannabis dispensaries until the federal Cannabis Act is enacted in July of 2018.”
This will have the affect of denying the recent proponent a business license.
“The Community Charter directs Council to reconsider if a request comes in from a proponent, for any type of business license,” said Mayor Don McCormick. “We will continue to do that on a case by case basis, but the message is, we won’t be granting any more licenses for medical marijuana dispensaries.”
McCormick says that when the first two licenses were granted, the thought was to grant access to those within the community looking for relief for certain medical conditions.
“Those in the community are getting what they need. It was never our intent to end up being a distribution centre for far and wide.”
And aside from all that, McCormick says, the fact that federal legislation is looming next summer, has changed everything since the first business licenses were granted.
“The draft legislation is so vague that we feel it’s prudent to wait on the feds for specific legislation. Then, as a municipality we can look at regulatory measures.”
Some of the concerns Council had with issuing another license, were that another dispensary meant more visibility, which could create issues with the RCMP; concern that there would be too many dispensaries in one area; and also concern that another approval would lead to more requests.
McCormick says that he is well aware that the current proponent had been granted a license before and was asked to reapply when her location and company name changed.
“We don’t transfer business licenses,” he said. “It was a new company, a new location. It is within Council’s purview to grant business licenses and to revoke them as well.”
And until the federal legislation, there will be no new licenses granted.
“I’m hoping this will be the last of it,” McCormick said. “At least until the legislation is tabled.”
Wesley Rogers, attorney for the proponent issued the following statement on behalf of his client.
“Our client is disappointed that Council changed course after significant time, energy, and money has been invested in this business based on the previous approval given by Council in November, 2016. Releaf simply wanted to fill a need in the market for quality medical marijuana. When it incorporated and, at Council’s suggestion, changed location, Council then denied our client that opportunity, despite that the same opportunity has been granted to the other two dispensaries. Our client thinks that the City should treat all citizens equally and fairly, and not prefer some business over others. Releaf is currently considering whether it will appeal Council’s decision to the courts.”