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.
“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.
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.
“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?”