A new leaf is about to be turned in Chemainus with the February opening of a LEAF Compassion cannabis dispensary at 9750 Chemainus Road – opposite the Chemainus Theatre.
But not everyone is thrilled with the notion of opening up a dispensary before it’s legal under Canadian law to do so.
“We are a premium cannabis dispensary and resource centre serving Victoria and Salt Spring Island in beautiful British Columbia,” says the LEAF Compassion website.
LEAF already has two locations, one in Victoria and the other on Saltspring Island. As well as opening a Chemainus outlet, the company is planning to open a dispensary in Port Alberni in March.
A request for an interview with LEAF founder and Executive Director Kyle Cheyne was not returned by press time Monday. The Chronicle asked about the timing of the opening and the types of services that will be offered in a Jan. 23 email to Cheyne.
The outlet appears to be high end, and adult oriented. A notice on the door says no minors will be permitted on the premises. The web site promotes a variety of ‘cannabis concentrates’, including: hashish, waxes, shatter, crumble, honey foam and oils.
It also take an advocacy approach to the use of marijuana products. “We see a not-so-distant future, in which cannabis creates a booming new industry alongside tens of thousands of jobs for Canadians,” says the web site.
“In the near future we can create hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue to put toward building schools, public housing and putting an end to hunger in our nation.”
North Cowichan Mayor Jon Lefebure, who is also a resident of Chemainus, said LEAF does not have a business license. “As far as I’m aware there has been no attempt to get a business license from our staff,” he said.
If the municipality had been approached, a business license would not be granted because the sale of cannabis is not legal in Canada, although the Liberal Government elected in October has said it will look into legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana.
“Anyone can put up a sign and start up a business, but not necessarily legally,” he said. Council can only take action once a business is started, and North Cowichan will be considering what to do then.
This is the first time a dispensary has opened in Chemainus. Asked if it will spur council to begin considering how cannabis dispensaries will be regulated within North Cowichan if and when they are legalized, he said, “Absolutely. It’ inevitable.”
The Town of Ladysmith has said it will not license marijuana dispensaries either until it is legal to do so, and Coun. Steve Arnett has expressed concerns about the need for municipalities to be prepared to properly regulate dispensaries if and when they are legalized.
“It’s going to be part of our culture,” he is quoted in a July 27 article in The Chronicle, “and we have to be ready for it.”