WeeMedical Wellness reps were given one last chance to make their case to city council before it voted unanimously Tuesday to revoke their business licence.
Weemedical lawyer Mitch Foster said allegations by an anonymous source that marijuana was being “sold” from the storefront location on Fifth Avenue in Chilliwack were false.
It was being stored on-site, he acknowledged, but no cannabis was sold, according to instructions given to Foster from WeeMedical Wellness rep May Joan Liu.
The written complaint by “a concerned citizen” received by the mayor’s office on Nov. 23, was the catalyst for the police raid and bylaw staff inspection of Dec. 7, leading ultimately to the RCMP seizure of packaged pot, hash and edibles.
The note said although the dispensary had been raided last year, the “same products” were being sold again under the counter from the storefront location in downtown Chilliwack.
“Hearsay evidence is admissible at a hearing like this, but it must be properly weighed,” Foster said.
The business licence for WeeMedical Wellness was approved last June, with one very specific condition: that it was not authorized to sell “cannabis or cannabis derivatives” from the location on Fifth Avenue.
The business licence only authorized the retail sale of gluten-free organic and vegan foods, and accessories related to medical cannabis.
But more than 51 oz of marijuana, 6.95 oz of hash and some cannabis infused products were seized by the Mounties in December, with bylaw enforcement staff.
The “key thing” he told council was that Weemedical was selling marijuana in Sechelt, and doing it legally by the laws of Port Alberni.
He handed out copies of business licences from other communities, and a cheque cashed by a municipality for a business licence application almost in place elsewhere in B.C.
“These locations have to obtain supplies and they have to get those supplies from somewhere. That is why there was marijuana in this back room,” Foster told council.
The packaged product seized last month from a display cabinet in the back room was actually headed for other communities where WeeMedical was operating, he asserted.
“It is specifically denied that any marijuana was being sold. Staff could package in the back room, but they were under direct orders not to sell anything,” Foster said.
He said there was no credible evidence, only the “vaguest of vague allegations” about any sales.
Council took a moment after the presentation to discuss the matter with City of Chilliwack’s legal counsel.
The latest staff report includes this substantiation for revoking the licence: “Given the sale of medical marijuana is not permitted at this location and is in contravention of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act as well as the City’s Zoning and Business Licence Bylaws, it is recommended the business licence be cancelled.”
When council came back into chambers to vote, Coun. Chuck Stam said he was in favour of the motion to revoke the business licence of WeeMedical, based on their failure to comply with the very specific conditions, which included a promise not to sell cannabis after being raided twice last year.
“I am confident the information provided by our staff (about the sale of marijuana) is accurate,” said Stam.
As Chilliwack’s WeeMedical Wellness was about to lose its business licence, the WeeMedical Wellness outlet in Richmond was being raided by Richmond RCMP, seizing small package of what was believed to be marijuana and a range of infused edibles.
Richmond RCMP is taking a similar approach to Chilliwack.
“During the course of our investigation, officers learned that the storefront was the recipient of more than eight business licence related infractions dating back to November 2016,” said Const. Dennis Hwang , Richmond RCMP Media Liaison Officer.
“As the law currently stands, it is illegal to operate a business without a licence and it is illegal to sell or distribute marihuana/marihuana-based products. Full stop. Until such time as the law changes, you can most certainly expect that a visit from us.”