The owner of three marijuana dispensaries in Abbotsford intends to fight the city in court to keep the pot shops open.
Don Briere of Vancouver runs Weeds Glass and Gifts Ltd., a province-wide chain with Abbotsford outlets on Clearbrook Road, George Ferguson Way and South Fraser Way. In October, the City of Abbotsford filed a petition in B.C. Supreme Court to shut the Clearbrook location down.
The city argued the shop should be shuttered because it was operating without a business licence. Briere, a well-known medical pot activist, tried to get a permit but was denied because Abbotsford bans marijuana dispensaries.
In a response to the city’s filing, Briere wrote that the order to shut down the shop shouldn’t be granted because “enforcing laws based on lies and misconception is a misuse of public funds.” He cited a Supreme Court of Canada case from 2015 that ruled medical marijuana should be available in edible forms, as smoking pot can harm the lungs.
Medical marijuana is legal in Canada, but the only official distribution channel is through a mail-order process overseen by Health Canada. “Compassion clubs” and dispensaries like Briere’s are technically illegal, but the laws against them remain unenforced in many communities.
The hearing on the petition will take place on Jan. 11 at 9:45 a.m. at the Smithe Street courthouse in Vancouver.
Briere has told The News he intends to fight the city on this as far as he can. As the Liberal Party of Canada has legalizing marijuana as part of its legislative agenda, he said shutting down dispensaries now is unnecessary.
“We’re going to be there on Jan. 11 and make our presentation,” he said. “For now, we’re still operating as usual.”
City of Abbotsford spokesperson Katherine Treloar said the city will not comment on legal matters.