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Pot patients burning mad at licence decision

July 20, 2016 3:21 P.M.
(Deborah Pfeiffer)


PENTICTON — Medical marijuana patients are not happy with Penticton city council's decision to revoke the Rush In and Finish Cafe's business licence.

People sitting out front of the Westminster Avenue cafe Wednesday expressed sadness and anger over Tuesday's vote.

"I think it's silly because everyone in the Okanagan Valley will continue to get their cannabis even if the dispensaries are closed," said Jesse Wade, who uses it for post traumatic stress disorder and depression. "They will just find other readily available means."

After listening to cafe owner Jukka Laurio plead his case to stay open at a hearing Tuesday afternoon, council discussed the matter.

The action was decided with a 5-2 vote, with Mayor Andrew Jakubeit and Coun. Tarik Sayeed voting against closing.

However, the council voted narrowly in favour of a motion that would mandate that city staffers return in 60 days with a report on options for medical cannabis dispensary regulations the city could undertake.

People in the big crowd listened attentively to the proceedings and reacted positively to Sayeed's support.

On Wednesday, Sonja Genthner, another patient visiting the cafe, said she had been coming for two years to get medical marijuana for her fibromyalgia and other issues.

"It's a safe place and it (medical marijuana) makes my body feel much better," she said. "And (the decision) is very sad because now we have to go other places and I trust it here. I know most of the people here, and it's like a family."

Another patient, who declined to give his name, said he uses it for his back pain.

"I used to use pharmaceuticals for the pain but was getting an upset stomach, so I was turned on to medical marijuana," he said. "And I've been coming to Jukka's cafe because this is a safe place and I'm not lining the drug cartels' pockets with money.

"So I'm mad because now I've got to find somewhere else to purchase it and go to places that are unsafe, where I could get mugged for my money."

On Wednesday, the doors to the cafe were open and people were going in and out, getting coffee and baked goods. Laurio had said that despite the decision, he will continue to work without a licence.

Mayor Andrew Jakubeit said if that is the case, enforcement starts with fines and can escalate to injunctive action where they ask the courts to help enforce the bylaw.

The city is also cracking down on other dispensaries in the city.

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