Owner of Abbotsford pot shop files constitutional court challenge

No business licence means stores must close, says city

  • Jul. 23, 2016 11:00 a.m.

A South Fraser Way medical marijuana dispensary remains open despite a court injunction.

by Kelvin Gawley, Abbotsford News

The owner of a medical marijuana dispensary battling the City of Abbotsford to stay open has filed a constitutional challenge, claiming the city has no right to ban pot shops.

In court filings submitted this month, Don Briere, who operates marijuana dispensary Mary Jane Glass and Gifts on South Fraser Way, claims many of Mary Jane’s patients are unable to obtain marijuana elsewhere due to low incomes, disabilities or both.

Briere, who owns a dozen similar locations in B.C. and Ontario, most of which are named Weeds Glass and Gifts, shut down a previous shop on Clearbrook Road after the city brought an injunction against it in January because it lacked a business licence.

The City of Abbotsford has said it won’t issue business licences to dispensaries because of federal laws prohibiting such operations.

The city has also brought an injunction against the Mary Jane location, but the South Fraser Way site remained open after the March injunction because Briere intended to appeal, the petition states.

The petition says the dispensary provides marijuana products for people with cancer, with glaucoma, recovering from heart attacks and suffering from chronic pain. It remained open, the filings say, because “given the tides of change that are transforming the law on medical marijuana in Canada and particularly in British Columbia, it would only be a matter of time before operations such as the dispensary are legal.”

Briere’s lawyer, Dean Davison, said the City of Abbotsford is bullying his client.

The City of Abbotsford continues to issue the shop two tickets a day for operating without a business licence. But Davison said other municipalities, including Vancouver, stopped issuing similar tickets once they were being challenged before the courts.

“It’s just a way, kind of, to bully our guys into not using their rights, not going to court,” said Davison.

Legislation passed by the federal Conservative government and still on the books states all medical marijuana must be bought and sold directly from Health Canada and delivered by mail.

In April, the Supreme Court overturned the law’s provisions banning homegrown marijuana, although it gave the governing Liberals six months to write a new law.

The federal Liberals have pledged to legalize marijuana.

“What we’re saying is the City of Abbotsford does not have the authority to enforce or determine an issue that is under federal jurisdiction,” he said.

Davison said his client will obey the court if it orders him to shut down his shop.

The City of Abbotsford has said it will not comment on the case because it is an ongoing legal matter.

In March, after the city filed the injunction to shut down Mary Jane, Mayor Henry Braun told The News he was not personally opposed to medical marijuana but he see it as the municipality’s legal duty to follow the law.

“We have an obligation as a local government to uphold laws, otherwise you have chaos,” said Braun, at the time.

Just Posted

City of Abbotsford organizing renewed homelessness forum

Local forum in June to come after regional forum fell out due to snowy weather in February

Up-front price tag for new Abbotsford/Mission water source rises

Consultants suggest shifting $7 million in costs from project’s second stage

Abbotsford’s newest public art unveiled in historic downtown

Mural adorns back of Hemingway’s Books on Montrose Avenue

Abbotsford parents invited to anti-gang education session

Presenters to discern myth from reality, offer warning signs that youths are getting into gangs

Welcome to 89 years at the same Abbotsford address

Philip Sheffield lunch brings past students together one more time

REPLAY: The best videos from across B.C. this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at the replay-worth highlights from this week in the province

UN urges Canada to take more vulnerable Mexican migrants from Central America

The request comes as the United States takes a harder line on its Mexican border

B.C. VIEWS: Money-laundering melodrama made for TV

Public inquiry staged to point fingers before 2021 election

Canadian homebuyers escaping high housing costs by moving to secondary cities

In British Columbia, exurbs have grown in the Hope Valley and Kamloops

Feds lay out proposed new rules for voice, video recorders in locomotives

Transport Canada wants to limit use of recorders to if a crew’s actions led to a crash

Raptors beat Bucks 100-94 to advance to franchise’s first-ever NBA Finals

Leonard has 27 points, 17 boards to lead Toronto past Milwaukee

Third person charged in death of B.C. teen found in torched SUV

Inderdeep Kaur Deo facing charge of accessory after the fact to murder

Kamloops girl, 9, recovering from carbon monoxide poisoning now out of ICU

Her mother who was sleeping in the same tent with her did not survive

UPDATE: Surrey RCMP say boy, 11, missing for two days found safe

Dominic Mattie was last seen at 5 p.m. in the 13500-block of Gateway Drive in Surrey

Most Read