Chilliwack WeeMedical Dispensary Society has until June 1 to respond to a court injunction from City of Chilliwack seeking to keep them closed permanently after two raids.
Court injunction papers were served May 11, according to city officials, and WeeMedical officials were given 21 days to respond.
The goal is to prevent WeeMedical dispensary from continuing to sell medical marijuana from a Chilliwack storefront, after being issued fines of more than $44,000 to the business, and landlords.
“We’ll keep fining them and looking at all our other legal options,” said Mayor Sharon Gaetz. “These are the only tools we have right now to bring them into compliance.”
The WeeMedical dispensary was shut down twice this spring, for being in contravention of city bylaws, and operating without a business licence. They were raided by RCMP both times for criminal code infractions.
WeeMedical spokesperson May Joan Liu said they are planning to submit a “lengthy defence” to the court injunction, even though they are also applying at the same time to reopen in the same site as a wellness centre.
“Obviously we are going to defend ourselves,” Liu said. “We are not even open and they are trying to make sure we don’t ever open.”
In the meantime they have filed another business licence application for a “wellness centre” at the site on Fifth Avenue, in order to honour their lease obligations.
“We are waiting to hear on that,” Liu said.
Their plan is to sell gluten-free, vegan and organic food, she said.
The Chilliwack mayor stated that she’ll be happy when “this fight is over” in a broad sense. It’s become quite a quandary for many communities, struggling in the absence of a new regulatory framework for medical marijuana.
“Municipalities are in a state of disarray without the rules in place for this. It puts us in a very difficult position, spending money to fight court cases against something that is clearly illegal, even though things are changing,” she said.
So when and if it all becomes regulated, it will be a relief, said Gaetz.
What about other communities that turn a blind eye to marijuana dispensaries operating within their borders?
“I can’t speak for other communities,” Gaetz said. “We will uphold our bylaws and the RCMP enforces the Criminal Code. Fines are always a last resort but sometimes they are the only way to bring an illegal business into compliance.”
If they were to obtain a business licence by selling legal products like gluten-free food, the “no occupancy” order would be lifted, and the bright orange “no occupancy” sign would be removed.