Feature Story                                                   Tuesday, January 24, 2017

 

Unnatural Justice

City Hall denies WeeMedical again

Staff/Voice images

 

WeeMedical's lawyer speaks to mayor and council at the City Hall meeting Tuesday. Below some of the marijuana products seized.

 

he business of Marijuana is smoking hot in many parts of the country, however in places like Chilliwack, it's still ice cold.

 

At the City Hall council meeting Tuesday, one of the agenda items was if WeeMedical Wellness Centre would be allowed back in business at their 5th Avenue store, when their licence to operate was revoked last year for "non-compliance" after a couple of much-publicized pot busts. They were also fined over $44,000.

 

The decision  to revoke WeeMedical's licence was signed-off on by City of Chilliwack David Blaine, director of planning and engineering, supported by Peter Montief, CAO.

 

"This licence does not authorize the sale of cannabis or cannabis derivatives. Such use is expressly prohibited. This Licence is issued for the business described herein and no other. Any false or misleading information given in order to obtain this licence is an offence and shall make this licence invalid."
 

This time, in another attempt to reopen the store, Liu came armed with lawyer Mitch Foster. She sat quietly while he made her case.


The store was licenced to sell natural healthcare products, such as gluten-free, vegan and organic food. However, marijuana was also being packaged out of sight in the back of the store, that Liu said through her lawyer was to be shipped out later to licenced medical marijuana distributors.

 

On Monday, the day before council meeting, The Voice attempted to contact WeeMedical about the anonymous complaint. However, likely for legal reasons, didn't receive a response.

On Tuesday, WeeMedical's lawyer cited that a crucial piece of evidence the City has, was submitted by an  anonymous person, dated November 23, 2016, consisting of three of four lines making no reference to the store selling pot, adding that there weren't any undercover agents who bought marijuana at the store either.

Above, the anonymous complaint filed November 23, 2016. (Right click, save and preview for a larger, more readable image.)


 

In most cases, complaints to the City have names and addresses, just not this one. But nevertheless it was accepted by staff in their determinations and report.

When City staff went in to inspect the premises, it was noted that they could smell pot.

Foster reiterated that, although there was pot in the building, none was being sold there and any that was confiscated by the police was being packaged for shipping out to "legal" locations.

Foster used a dispensary in Port Alberni as an example of a store that operates successfully under the law.

According to Foster, there was nothing to prove that they were selling pot, which would be outside of the provisions set out in their business licence and also reminded council the licence was paid for and ran from January 1, 2017 to December 31, 2017.

"Nothing was on display," he said. "The marijuana was found in the back in a drawer."

 

"I believe in allowing people to have safe access to a source of medicine that Health Canada has already acknowledged," said Liu in an email to The Voice later. "Taking away people's choice on how they access it is wrong when clearly there are benefits to medical marijuana."
 

Liu added, "Chilliwack has a lot of elderly residents who need access to their medicine of choice but council don't sympathize at all."


The argument could be made, and wasn't at City Hall Tuesday, that if no products were on display, and not sold at the store, then there was nothing to support "just cause" therefore the police would have been able to legally enter the premisis. In this case, the evidence to support "just cause" entry by the police was based on an anonymous three-page letter.

The note from Cst. Bowness (below) came after the latest bust, indicates what and how much marijuana was confiscated.

 

Hi Garret (Schipper),

We seized 51.55 ounces of marijuana and 6.95 ounces of hash along with the large quantity of cannabis infused

products. Was found packaged in small quantities in the bottom compartment of the display case, both fridges, and the backroom where larger quantities were located.

- Cst. Kyle Bowness

At Liu's last City Hall appearance, Mayor Sharon Gaetz said that she saw it as attempt by Weemedical to "jump the queue".

Gatez withdrew her council from chambers so they could confer with someone on the legal aspects related to allowing WeeMedical to continue to operate. When they returned, Gaetz put forward the motion and council voted unanimously against WeeMedical.

"I have confidence in staff and their report," said councillor Stam.

The general consensus of people The Voice has spoken with since Wee Medical's bust, agreed that by denying the store, they deny people who have ailments, such as seizures, the opportunity to buy pot in a legitimate tax-paying store. Instead, the City is forcing these people to go to the street to buy it, therefore fuelling an underground economy.

The Voice connected with Wee Medical after council meeting on Tuesday, however they had no comment regarding a possible lawsuit against the City.

The Voice attempted to contact the mayor and councillors after, however didn't receive a response in time to publish with this.

Watch for updates and more information as it rolls in.

 

 

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