The recall & amendment of Nelson, B.C.'s "Medical Cannabis Business License Bylaw"

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Residents of Nelson, B.C. and surrounding municipalities
RE: $5000 Cannabis Business License Fee

The regulation of medical cannabis dispensaries by municipal bylaw is a positive step forward while Canadian society waits for the federal government’s legislation to regulate cannabis access for all adults. Unfortunately, in the haste to create and pass a bylaw it seems that city staff and council have simply cut and paste the suggested $5000 per year business license fee from other municipalities (Ex. Victoria and Squamish) without showing any direct evidence that creating a new business license category and inspection regime for medical cannabis dispensaries will require the added $30,000 per year this fee would compile from the current 6 dispensaries located in Nelson.

Frances Long, director of corporate services, recently stated:
“ the $5,000 fee the city will be charging for a dispensary business licence is established to provide for the regulation of the dispensaries solely by the city and reflects the regulatory and enforcement responsibility — or the costs — incurred by the city. Some cities, such as Vancouver, charge $30,000.”

While Vancouver does charge $30,000 per year for a cannabis business license, it also recognizes the difference between average dispensaries and those that are specifically focused on serious medical patients, and allows a second tier business license to those who prove a medical focus for $1000 per year.

Unfortunately, there is no such recognition within Nelson’s bylaw and as such the $5000 per year fee is both punitive and operationally prohibitive for our company, The Kootenay’s Medicine Tree. We are making a direct appeal to the residents of Nelson and the surrounding areas who have either directly or indirectly benefited from our services to contact Nelson city council prior to the public meeting on March 6, 2017 and demand a more reasonable cannabis business license fee. This bylaw can be recalled and altered to reflect this important and necessary change.

For those who do not know, our company offers the following services for FREE to all in and around Nelson which are at risk due to the steep increase in operating costs that come from the bylaw fee:

- Medical Cannabis: History and Human Health, course offered to members of Learning In Retirement via Selkirk College Silverking Campus, 4 semesters running.

- Tours to local physicians, nurses, and medical school students of our dispensary and explanation of product use, safety, and sourcing.

- Outreach to senior citizens in care homes, support to doctors and nurses on staff

- Cannabis product selection and dose/safe use consultations and ongoing support to qualified medical patients

- Educational presentations on cannabis science for local clubs and groups (Nelson Gyro Club, University Women’s Club, Nelson Unitarian Spiritual Centre, neighbourhood groups)

Additionally, our small dispensary receives referrals directly from cancer clinics, pediatric oncologists (childhood cancer), pediatric neurologists (childhood epilepsy, autism) across Canada for our established reputation for specific dosing plans and serious treatment of our most fragile referrals: Children and Senior Citizens. We have been able to make some incredible gains in health and quality of life for some of Nelson’s most ill children and seniors and this positive work is now under threat from the unintended consequences of this current bylaw.

In lieu of evidence to specifically support the need for a $5000 business license fee, we are asking council to recall the bylaw and add a more reasonable fee ($1000 per year) for those cannabis businesses that can show and prove community service and a medical focus beyond simply the provision of cannabis over the counter to those with qualifying medical documents.

This license fee may force us to close our Nelson dispensary, which threatens the current services we offer Nelson’s most ill residents and the community at large.

Medical cannabis is about more than just access, please help us and businesses like ours sustain and improve our community-based medical cannabis services for Nelson and the surrounding region, while still allowing the city to cover their costs.

Sincerely,

Jim Leslie
Executive Director
The Kootenay’s Medicine Tree
#106 – 601 Front Street
Nelson, BC
V1L 4B6
250-352-0961
#4 – 1960 68th Avenue
Grand Forks, B.C.
V0H 1H0
250-442-8248



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