By DEBORAH PFEIFFER
Operators of two Penticton medical marijuana businesses are being given the chance to appeal to city council.
The appeal by Green Essence at 409 Martin St. and Avitas Pharmaco, 150 1636 Main St., at a special meeting on Monday, is on the issue of cancelling their business licenses.
"From our perspective, we can't tolerate businesses operating without a licence, regardless of their circumstances," said Mayor Andrew Jakubeit.
According to city staff, on Nov. 15, 2015, Avitas was issued a licence to operate. The business description provided to the city was it would be for a professional consulting-intake centre for licensed producers.
On July 14, a letter was deliverd to the owner advising the business licence would be suspended on grounds that cannabis was being sold on the premises.
The owner requested an appeal and closed Aug. 2 until that process is complete.
On June 2, Green Essence was issued a business licence to operate, with a description of general merchandise store. On June 30, it was suspended for the same reason.
Green Essence owner Melissa Osiowy said she is making the appeal because she feels like she should be the voice of the people who need a safe, clean access to medical cannabis.
"This is more personal and 80 per cent of this is consulting our customers and seeing what they need, which you aren't going to see on the Internet," she said. "I didn't get into this for political reasons, I got into this because I know that medical cannabis works."
She added that they are also putting back into the economy, with 10 employees who work very hard.
The city has also cracked down on Starbuds and the Rush In and Finish Cafe, both located on Westminster Avenue.
Jukka Laurio, owner of the cafe, also pleaded his case to the city, but his licence was cancelled.
Since then, he has continued to operate, with the city issuing weekly fines. Those started at $250 and escalated to $500 in August. The next step would be to go to $500 daily or a court injunction.
Laurio said Friday he has no intention of closing.
Starbuds has also been issued a notice of non-occupancy.
"We are hoping by early September we will have a few more indications from the federal government of what they are moving towards," said Jakubeit. "At the end of the day, it is still illegal, and we don't have the power or mandate to choose what illegal activities should be tolerated versus enforced."
Meanwhile, a medical pot dispensary in Merritt that was forced to close last week when the city refused to issue a business licence, reopened Thursday, Aug. 11, after deciding to operate illegally. That means the business will be penalized $100 for every day it remains open.
Health Canada announced Thursday that it will introduce new regulations for medical marijuana on Aug. 24, allowing people permitted to use medical marijuana to grow their a small amount for personal consumption.