Pot dispensary opens in LakeCowichan

Green Tree Medical Dispensary has three other locations in mid-Island

A new medical marijuana dispensary has opened up in Lake Cowichan.

The Green Tree Medical Dispensary, which currently has locations in Nanaimo, Duncan and Shawnigan Lake, opened a fourth shop on South Shore Road, across from Saywell Park, last week.

But Lake Cowichan mayor Ross Forrest said the new dispensary has no business licence to operate, has never sought a business licence from the town, and civic leaders are waiting for the local RCMP detachment to decide how to move forward on the issue.

Matt MacLean, a co-manager at Green Tree’s location in Duncan, said the intent of all Green Tree’s dispensaries is to keep them as medicinal as possible.

“We have a membership process and all our clients must meet the requirements,” said MacLean, who has grown medicinal pot for the government during his career in the industry.

“This is a medicine that is used to treat specific ailments, and that’s how marijuana is treated at all our dispensaries. Having us in Lake Cowichan provides the town with a safe way to monitor medicinal marijuana (within its boundaries), and the clients can be assured that it’s been properly produced and we provide them with all the information that they need to know.”

But Forrest said, regardless of the federal government’s plans to legalize recreational pot next year, the dispensary is currently operating illegally, even if it identifies itself as a medicinal operation.

“We want all the businesses in Lake Cowichan to be legal and have business licences to operate,” he said.

“Allowing the dispensary to operate without a licence would not be a good example to our other businesses who would want to know why they have to acquire a business licence to operate and this business doesn’t. We’re waiting to hear back from the RCMP on the issue.”

A spokeswoman for the Lake Cowichan RCMP detachment would only say that the police are aware the dispensary is in operation, and are working on a response.

There are at least seven marijuana dispensaries currently operating in the Cowichan Valley.

The Liberal government has promised to table legislation to legalize marijuana for recreational use by July 1, 2018.

The federal task force recommended in its 106-page report that storefront and mail-order marijuana sales should be available to Canadians 18 years of age and up when it becomes legal.

But in the meantime, the Municipality of North Cowichan has intervened a number of times with dispensaries operating within its jurisdiction, handing out $200 fines for operating without business licences.

But they reopened quickly again after each time, and currently remain in operation.

A number of other dispensaries in the Valley are located in the Cowichan Valley Regional District, where business licences are not required for stores to operate in many of its electoral areas.

Lake Cowichan Gazette

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