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Delta goes to court to close marijuana shop

Ruling shuts dispensary on Scott Road, but it re-opens days later under a different name
A B.C. Supreme Court ruling closed the WeeMedical Dispensary Society on Scott Road, but it’s since re-opened as the WeeCare Med Society. Another court date is set for next month.

The B.C. Supreme Court has ordered a medical marijuana dispensary in North Delta shut down.

In a ruling earlier this month, and posted on the court’s website last Thursday, Justice Shelley Fitzpatrick ruled WeeMedical Dispensary Society didn’t have a business licence and contravened Delta’s zoning bylaw.

Since a permanent statutory injunction preventing the dispensary from operating was put in effect earlier this month, the store obeyed the order, shut down, but then re-opened a few days later under a different name.

The store now operates under the name WeeCare Med Society, which has now filed a statement of defence and will have its case go before the court next month.

The operation opened in April in the 9500-block of Scott Road and had applied for a business licence, but was refused. WeeMedical, which operates dispensaries in several locations in the province, was taken to court after an order to cease operations was refused.

Society director May Joan Liu had claimed the dispensary is a non-profit society and is not required to obtain a business licence.

A bylaw inspector regularly visited the site to issue tickets as long as the business continued to operate. The fines were initially $200 a day, however, amendments to Delta’s business licence bylaw approved in late May increased the fines to $1,000 a day. The fines amounted to close to $12,000, an amount the operator indicated they will appeal.

Liu appeared before Delta council earlier this summer, urging civic politicians to approve the business licence for the WeeMedical Dispensary Society.

“Since the federal government has already announced that they are decriminalizing the use of marijuana and will be setting regulations in spring of 2017, allowing WeeMedical to continue operating will be considered a progressive step forward in the direction of the future and not backwards where the only way to access medical marijuana for most people is in the streets where they put themselves in danger in some cases,” Liu stated in a letter to Delta.

However, in her reasons for judgement, Fitzpatrick stated, “It is well known that the federal government has indicated that it intends to take a different approach in terms of marijuana generally, if not medical marijuana. I have no idea where the federal government is in that process.

It appears that it is moving in that direction, but when it might get to that point is anyone’s guess. Further, it is as yet unknown what any new legal regime will look like. It may be, at the end of the day, that operations such as this will not be offside the criminal law. However, as a judge of this court, I can only address the situation now in terms of what the current law is, not what it might be in the future.”

The justice added that Delta “is within its rights based on the current law to take the position that WeeMedical is operating an illegal business.”

The dispensary was slapped with a permanent statutory injunction that restrains it from operating.

Two years ago, Delta passed a bylaw amendment prohibiting the production, storage, research or sale of medical marijuana anywhere in the municipality. The bylaw initially applied to all zones, including agricultural, although applications to grow the product would be considered on a case-by-case basis.

The idea was to keep any potential operations within industrial zones. Two applications to set up grow operations in those areas would go on to receive approval, but one has since been abandoned.

The provincial government, meanwhile, struck down part of the bylaw that prohibited the production of medical pot of farmland. So far, there have been no applications.