Marijuana business presses on with new bylaw
By Aaron Guillen, Staff Reporter
Located in a strip mall beside Lions Park, Cannabis Culture operates as a budding entrepreneurship, one of the first marijuana dispensaries of its kind in Port Coquitlam. While the business aims to spread throughout the Lower Mainland, city officials haven’t grown fond of the storefront operation. Recently, city council voted through an adjustment to a bylaw, effectively placing added pressure on not only businesses, but the landlords that determine their tenants.
Essentially, the bylaw would place responsibility of illegal actions taken not only on the business operators, but owners of those commercial properties.
“Currently, our bylaws only allow us to give fines to the businesses if they’re doing something illegal or running without a business licence,” said Port Coquitlam Mayor Greg Moore to CTV News.
“What we’re going to do is […] also include the land owners. We think the land owners have some responsibility in ensuring what goes on in their building actually is according to bylaws and the laws of this country.”
The details of the bylaw state that, unlike before, the city of Port Coquitlam would charge land owners with a fine before handing one to the business themselves. In addition, the city will have the right to sell the storefront and pocket the income, should businesses not observe the bylaw within five years.
With Cannabis Culture on the defensive, marijuana businesses across the Lower Mainland believe they are being targeted. In late November, their storefront was raided by police in the aims of proving that the business was breaking the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. According to local RCMP Constable Jamie Phillipson, evidence was retrieved, but no arrests were made. As their investigation persists, marijuana storefronts should stay aware, as dispensaries such as Cannabis Culture are banned across the nation.
Jodie Emery, spokeswoman for Cannabis Culture, reminded the Tri-City News that they were standing beside their business mandate to stay “committed to defending the civil liberties and freedom of cannabis consumers, growers, and providers by campaigning to end unjust criminalization and persecution.”
According to Emery, the new bylaw isn’t the only trial their business has faced. Every day, Cannabis Culture is fined $150 for operating without a business license. In addition, city officials have parked a police car in front of the store day in and day out, further convincing Emery that by scaring customers away, all fingers are being pointed to businesses like theirs as the one at fault.
“The bylaw changes are very disappointing, especially when our dispensary does no harm and helps a lot of people. We even raised $3,000 for veterans with a fundraiser the other day, so we feel we can give back and allow Port Coquitlam to benefit from the opportunity that exists,” she said to Tri-City News.
“We believe in what we’re doing, so we don’t close down unless the persecution and punishment becomes too heavy and harmful to our peaceful people who work in and operate the franchise locations. We make sure there are lawyers on retainer for every location to cover the costs of any arrested employees and to challenge the law in court when needed. That’s the way all cannabis law reform has been won in Canada. We believe in peaceful civil disobedience to demonstrate what legalization should look like.”