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City of Langley says no to marijuana dispensary pilot proposal

Was voted down during closed-door meeting, mayor reveals
City of Langley mayor Peter Fassbender has revealed council voted down a marijuana dispensary pilot project five months ago after receiving legal advice.

Langley City mayor Peter Fassbender has revealed council unanimously voted against a medical marijuana dispensary during a closed-door meeting "four or five months ago."

During a Friday morning press briefing, Fassbender said the vote was taken after the City obtained legal advice about the controversial dispensary operated by marijuana activist Randy Caine.

The mayor said the law firm which reviewed the issue told council the dispensary, as it is currently operated, violates federal government laws, and a municipal government such as Langley City does not have the legal power to approve one.

"This is out of our jurisdiction," Fassbender said.

"We're not going to dive into it."

He said petition organizers would be better off approaching Health Canada and the federal government, which the mayor said has created the current "mess" with "deeply flawed" laws governing distribution of medical marijuana.

Fassbender said he decided to release the information about the past council vote because organizers of a pro-dispensary petition who are lobbying for city approval of a pilot program were scheduled to appear before council Monday night.

Fassbender said council would hear the delegation out, but there would be no vote on the petition.

"This is not a Langley City issue," Fassbender said.

"This is a national issue."

The mayor said he personally sympathizes with the plight of medical marijuana users who have genuine heath problems, but he cannot break the law to assist them.

"I feel for the people who have medical issues," Fassbender said.

"I really do."

The mayor said council had nothing to do with the police raid on the Langley dispensary in July, and will not be involved with any subsequent prosecution if charges are laid.

Fassbender also revealed that Caine has never sought a business licence for the dispensary, likely because when he approached the City he was told they could not issue a licence for an illegal business.

The mayor said the ultimate answer is a proposed overhaul of the medical marijuana laws by the federal government that would shift production to "licensed commercial producers" and eliminate the current system that allows licensed users to grow small amounts themselves.

Dispensary supporters said they hope the city changes its mind.

Dispensary founder Randy Caine (pictured), who is running for a seat on Langley City council, said at the very least, council could support the idea of a dispensary.

"Can't they just come out and give some sort of endorsement?" Caine said.

"They do have the authority to do that."

Caine said the position adopted by council amounts to opposing a dispensary and opposing aid for ailing people.

"They're just close-minded and closed-door," Caine said.

Petition organizer Dan Mackle said the sign-up of people who favour a medical marijuana dispensary pilot in the City of Langley had raised 1,901 signatures as of Friday morning (Oct. 21).

"Very solid support," Mackle said.

He added the organizers still planned to present their petition Monday in the hope council might alter their position.

"We will be presenting some new information," Mackle said.

"Hopefully, they can re-assess and revisit [the issue]."




Dan Ferguson

About the Author: Dan Ferguson

Dan Ferguson has worked for a variety of print and broadcast outlets in Canada and the U.S.
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