Anita Roy

Marijuana dispensaries operate in legal limbo

NANAIMO – New medical marijuana dispensaries are cropping up in the Harbour City.

A steady stream of customers file into Trees Dispensary Nanaimo, one of several places to pick up medical marijuana in the Harbour City.

Cookies, brownies and B.C bud can all be found behind glass cases at the Bowen Road storefront, estimated to serve 1,500 people each week. Clients don’t have to be medical marijuana patients as long as they declare they have a serious medical condition.

It’s not the first storefront to go to pot in the Harbour City to meet demand for medical marijuana. Despite retail pot being illegal and the city’s refusal to license the business, more dispensaries are on the way. Two signs advertising dispensaries have cropped up along Terminal Avenue and Nicol Street.

Dispensaries are operating within a grey area, according to those behind the counter and city bylaw manager Randy Churchill.

The City of Nanaimo has the potential to issue fines to unlicensed businesses – if dispensaries aren’t registered as non-profits – but since the city doesn’t want to license an outlet it views as illegal, it doesn’t want to ticket dispensaries for being without one. Churchill says the city is most concerned with where the product comes from and the conditions of houses and buildings, but it’s the RCMP that decides whether the dispensaries are in breach of the law.

Nanaimo RCMP Supt. Mark Fisher says police have to do a proper investigation and it also comes down to policing priorities, but it is illegal to sell marijuana and they are gathering information on what’s happening. He also points out that patients who do have medical permits have the option to go to licensed providers who are legal, like Tilray.

“There’s controls over the production of that marijuana, and quality controls and testing that meets certain standards that all falls under the federal government program; dispensaries we don’t know where they’re getting their marijuana from, what testing is done on that marijuana, anything of that nature and same with the food products that they sell,” he said.

“We have concerns in that regard as well,” Fisher said.

Anita Roy, assistant manager of Trees Dispensary, acknowledges the business is operating in a grey area – as is every other dispensary in B.C. – but it pays its taxes and employee wages and has attempted to get a business licence from the city.

It has also made the city and RCMP aware it exists and wants to be a legitimate business – it’s providing a venue for people to access marijuana instead of having to get it on the street. Trees is also different from other dispensaries, serving people who don’t want to go into a head shop, but want to access products like CBD capsules. The only signs Tree Dispensaries offers up marijuana are the white boards advertising prices and types of product, the smell of bud and a pile of canned goods on the floor offered in exchange for a free joint. The products themselves are behind closed doors.

“We are busy all the time. People are happy that we’re here,” said Roy, who says Trees serves a wide range of demographics and ailments.

Other dispensaries in the city are the not-for-profit Phoenix Pain Management Society and the Nanaimo Medical Care Club.

Just Posted

Discontent City expecting decision on injunction tomorrow

Lawyer representing individuals involved with homeless camp says he’ll be advised of judgment

Nanaimo United will step on home turf for soccer opener

VISL Div. 1 men plays at Merle Logan Field this Saturday, Sept. 22

Downtown Nanaimo hotel project moving forward

PEG Development submitted an updated permit application for a proposed hotel at 100 Gordon St.

Close to $10,000 worth of tools taken from construction site in Nanaimo

Theft happened overnight Sept. 12-13 on Old Slope Place

OPINION: Crowded ballot contains reasons to be encouraged

Somewhere within a list of 44 candidates, there’s a city council that can work in Nanaimo

VIDEO: International Day of Peace activities planned in Nanaimo

Unity Spiritual Education Centre of Nanaimo planning public walk, labyrinth dedication Sept. 21-22

Candidate lists finalized for Nanaimo, Lantzville, RDN, school district

Nomination deadline passes in advance of Oct. 20 local government elections

Beefs & Bouquets, Sept. 20

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail bulletinboard@nanaimobulletin.com

Council reverses past practice, will broadcast meetings during election campaign

Nanaimo city council votes 5-4 to continue with broadcasts

Porsche and Subaru dealerships can proceed with planning in north Nanaimo

City council unanimously allows rezoning application process to move forward

Departure Bay school parents concerned about rotating learning space

Eco-school students being taught in library and picnic areas, say parents

Update: Search called off for missing plane between Edmonton and Chilliwack

Search efforts were concentrated along the Highway 5 corridor between Valemount and Kamloops

Why Whistler for ski jumping in 2026? Calgary proposal gets pushback

Calgary 2026 proposes re-using the 2010 ski jumping venue Whistler for that sport and nordic

Despite progress, threat of 232 tariffs dominates NAFTA negotiations

Any deal is seen to require congressional approval before Dec. 1 to survive new Mexican government

Most Read