KAMLOOPS — Kamloops council has voted unanimously to grant licenses to two privately-owned cannabis retail stores planned for the North Shore.
One shop will set up at 399 Tranquille Rd., in the heart of the Tranquille business district, and the second will be located next to Safeway in the Fortune Shopping Centre.
The former application generated the most controversy, largely related to its location across the street from the Canadian Safe Cannabis Society (CSCS), a medical dispensary operating without a license but serving hundreds of Kamloops citizens.
Customers packed council chambers to urge council against granting the application to Chris Lyth, saying it would sound a death knell to CSCS, as the new store's presence would alert provincial enforcement officers to the non-compliant CSCS.
Cindy Rose of Fleetwood Avenue says she relies on CSCS's products to treat a life-threatening illness.
"These government stores are not offering me that opportunity to fight for my life. I should have the right, as a Canadian, the constitutional right to have a choice of where I go and how I use," said Rose.
Staff from the City of Kamloops say they have encouraged CSCS proprietor Carl Anderson to apply for a recreational license through the proper channels, but that hasn't happened.
"Myself and staff have met with Mr. Anderson on a number of occasions to discuss his ability to make that provincial application," said Business License Inspector David Jones.
"We encouraged him to get going and get going first. We haven't heard that Mr. Anderson has made that application to the province so, unfortunately, you have an application before you that has literally beat him to the punch. Unfortunately, Mr. Anderson will be, in due time, dealt with by the provincial task force."
Proprietor Carl Anderson says he has not applied for a recreational license for CSCS as a matter of principle.
"The government is trying to force medical cannabis users and dispensers into the new recreational market. But as I said, we don't use cannabis for recreational intoxication; we use it for medication," said Anderson.
Kamloops zoning regulations require 100-metre separation between two licensed cannabis retail shops.
CSCS does not have a license, and several councillors told Anderson they don't believe the products offered by the two shops overlap.
"It appears that there are two stores selling the same product, but in my mind, they're not. I don't think that they are going to be in a conflict in any way, from a revenue or financial perspective. I don't see this application changing the scenario that Mr. Anderson has had at that location for the past decade," said Coun. Donovan Cavers.
"The product is available. I have a feeling that dispensaries right across British Columbia will be shut down by those licensed officers through the provincial government," added Coun. Tina Lange. "Today, these aren't even competing with the same product and the same customers."
Mayor Ken Christian suggested council dealing with complication over this application will help smooth things over for future applicants.
"There are some bumps in the road — we get that. This is early going for the City of Kamloops and early going for this council and it's uncomfortable for us," said Christian. "But I suggest down the road, we are going to see a normalization in terms of the distribution of cannabis in this city."
The second application, proposed for the Fortune Shopping Centre, will be called 'Fiore Fresco' and operated by Chris Monteleone.
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