The City of Victoria has denied a rezoning application for the Terp City Canna Lounge, which has been operating illegally as a cannabis consumption site (Facebook/ Terp City Canna Lounge Victoria)

City of Victoria denies cannabis lounge business licence

Terp City Canna Lounge has been illegally operating for several years

The City of Victoria once again denied an illegally-operating downtown cannabis lounge a business license.

Terp City Canna Lounge at 1412 Douglas St. originally applied for a business licence on Oct. 2, 2017, but was denied a licence on May 29, 2018 due to not operating in compliance with city bylaws.

On Nov. 22, 2018 business owner Kyle Cheyne appealed to council, but the City denied the application citing the Cannabis Related Business Regulation Bylaw which prohibits the consumption of cannabis on any business premises in Victoria.

ALSO READ: Little change seen in Victoria after cannabis legalization

“Because the Applicant’s entire business model relates to on-site consumption of cannabis, the Licence Inspector denied the Applicant’s cannabis-related business licence application,” a report posted on this week’s council agenda reads.

Terp City has operations open in Victoria, Salt Spring Island, Chemainus and Port Alberni that act as “420 friendly” spaces to allow people to consume cannabis and cannabis-related products. The businesses do not sell dry cannabis on site but do sell non-psychoactive products made from a component of cannabis known as CBD, even though a specific licence is required for any cannabis sales.

ALSO READ: Shoppers Drug Mart starts selling medical cannabis online

Legal representatives for Cheyne argued that Terp City provides people relying on medical marijuana a safe space to consume cannabis when they can’t smoke in public or in their homes.

They also argued that the City’s stance on cannabis lounges lays in direct contradiction to its approach to cannabis dispensaries and cannabis-paraphernalia shops.

“While Council feels a certain degree of sympathy towards the argument that provision of a safe location in which medical or recreational cannabis can be consumed is beneficial, this remains contrary to the City’s bylaws,” the city report says. “In our view, the Licence Inspector had no choice but to withhold a business licence from the applicant. Similarly, we feel compelled to deny the appeal and refuse to issue a business licence for a business whose entire business model revolves around a contravention of the existing City bylaw. Therefore, the appeal is denied. “

The move comes after the City began an action in the BC Supreme Court in 2017 seeking an injunction to shut down Terp City, but the case is ongoing as the business cited constitutional issues.

So far the City has issued over $25,000 in fines against Terp City, which are slowly being processed.

Cannabis lounges in general are not off the table, however. On Aug. 9 Coun. Ben Isitt did put forward a motion to look into establishing a cannabis lounge in the city.

READ MORE: Victoria looking into cannabis lounge options

“People who are fortunate enough to have private land, own their homes and have outdoor spaces [around] their homes can smoke, but for people who don’t have that luxury there’s nowhere to lawfully consume this stuff, so there’s a disconnect,” he said at the committee of the whole meeting. “Thousands can’t lawfully consume it in their homes, so how are they supposed to do it?”

Mommy’s Inside Voice: Cannabis assumptions have gone up in smoke

In September, City staff were directed to research cannabis lounges in other municipalities to determine the best approach, but Isitt said he envisioned a space that had a private courtyard to comply with the CRD’ s clean air bylaw. So far, the staff have not come back with a report on the matter.

All currently-operating cannabis dispensaries in Victoria are running illegally, while another 12 are backlogged awaiting provincial and municipal approval to operate legally.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

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