Council denies cannabis business license appeal

Jennifer Pierre appealed her right to grow and sell medicinal cannabis products.

Cranbrook city council denied an appeal for a local entrepreneur who applied for a business license to sell medical marijuana products at a regular meeting on Monday.

Jennifer Pierre, who is trying to launch Inspired Spa & Natural Apothecary off the ground, appeared before council to argue her right to grow and sell medicinal cannabis products.

Pierre originally filed a business license application in November 2016 but was rejected three months later, because the city is only zoned for a medical grow operation.

It’s also a confusing time given that the federal government is in the process of addressing the legalization of marijuana with legislation that should be introduced eventually.

Pierre holds an exemption under Section 56 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, which allows ‘the individual to possess a specified quantity of the controlled substance and to administer the controlled substance to human subjects or animals for the purpose of research’.

“I hold an exemption under Section 56 to conduct activities with cannabis as a health care practitioner as well as I am authorized to possess and produce marijuana for medical purposes,” Pierre said.

“…I have spent the last 20 years of my life investigating and educating myself in the science and cannabinoid pharmacology of cannabis and the healing properties of cannabis. I have been 11 years relapse free living with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (MS).

“A neurologist told me, and I quote, ‘Whatever it is you’re doing, keep doing it.’”

Pierre also argued that the only local dispensary is in Kimberley, which is a half-hour drive away and can be dangerous in the winter.

“This is inhumane for disabled patients and it is presumptuous to assume that every patient has a vehicle, the time and the money to devote to this expense,” she said.

“Also this is pushing people to more illegal use by increasing their additional costs and in the climate of the opioid crisis in the province, it is unsafe as fentanyl are being added to street cannabis and putting people at risk for death.”

In addition to appealing her business license application, Pierre also called on council to rescind Bylaw 3789, which sets out the zoning definitions and permitted land uses for medical marijuana grow operations.

“We as a city and a community are losing valuable revenue that is going to other municipalities,” Pierre said, “specifically Kimberley, from Victoria to Nelson and every municipality in between — we are all onboard with striking responsible relationships with business owners about using cannabis.

The so-called illegal dispensaries have been seen as safe and reliable.”

Much of the council was sympathetic to Pierre’s cause, but blamed the federal government for denying the business application given that the sale of marijuana is technically illegal — a point that was punctuated by RCMP S/Sgt. Hector Lee, who was present for the meeting.

“Until that changes, I can’t in good conscience support an illegal dispensary in Cranbrook, especially when there’s very little to no regulatory tools in effect,” Lee said. “…the law is the law and that’s what my role here is, to enforce the law.”

Mayor Lee Pratt agreed.

“Unfortunately, the federal government hasn’t made it legal yet, and until such time as they do, I feel I was elected by the citizens of Cranbrook to represent them with honesty and integrity and in a lawful way,” Pratt said.

“So I cannot in good conscience support something that is illegal. I’m sorry, but I just can’t support it, but I encourage you to stay on it and hopefully one day the federal government will get their act together and it will be easy for people to access it.”