Abbotsford is taking an unlicensed marijuana dispensary to court.
The city has asked for a court order to shut down a medical pot outlet on Clearbrook Road because it is operating without a business licence.
The store is run by Weeds Glass & Gifts Ltd. and the Canadian Weed Cannnabis Society, both of which are led by Don Briere, a Vancouver-based medical cannabis activist and manager of several dispensaries across the province.
As described in the city’s court filing, Briere applied for a business licence online in May, but the application was rejected because city bylaws ban marijuana sales.
“Medical marijuana dispensaries are absolutely not permitted and care must be taken not to issue this license under any condition if this is what they are doing,” wrote a city employee in response to the application.
The city refunded his application fee, and sent a demand letter on May 26 ordering Briere to shutter the shop in three weeks.
On June 17, bylaw enforcement staff inspected the premises, and found it to still be in operation.
Briere then contacted the city and told them the dispensary was being run by the Canadian Weed Cannabis Society non-profit, and therefore shouldn’t need a business licence. He brought documents to city hall — a lease, showing the storefront was leased to the society, and a certificate of incorporation, showing the society was as a registered non-profit. He asked the city what else he needed to do to get around the business licence requirement.
Briere was served another demand letter on Aug. 24, giving a final warning for him to close the shop within three weeks. The city never received an exemption application to operate an unlicensed business, the court filing says.
Bylaw enforcement staff then inspected the storefront on Sept. 24, and the dispensary was still operating.
In previous comments to The News, Briere has said his stores only sell marijuana products to people with a doctor’s prescription. He argues that the dispensaries are good for the community because they do not funnel money to organized crime like the street drug trade.
The Clearbrook Road location is one of three dispensaries operated by Briere and his organizations in Abbotsford. Two others are on George Ferguson Way and South Fraser Way.
City spokesperson Katherine Treloar said the city won’t comment on why it’s focusing on the Clearbrook location, as this is a legal matter.
Briere has not yet responded to the petition in court, and could not be reached for comment.