The freeze on cannabis-related sales in Hope seems to be thawing, as a local shop gets the go-ahead to sell pipes, bongs, rolling papers and other instruments for preparing and smoking marijuana.
After a presentation to council Nov. 13, co-owner of Stratus Vapor Shop Avery Coates was given the go-ahead from District of Hope staff to begin selling instruments to consume now-legal cannabis in the Wallace Street store.
“We are not looking for marijuana, or for any products with THC,” he told Mayor and council. “We are not asking about marijuana, marijuana edibles or anything that has THC. This request is only about paraphernalia, which is the tools, objects and products used to parttake in marijuana, tobacco or natural herbs.”
Coates added the store is already well-equipped to handle sales of these products, as regulations on vaping have the store windows blacked out and anyone entering the store who looks underage getting ID’d. He also stressed the store will not be adding signage to advertise the paraphernalia.
“They are not illegal, so please allow us to have them in our business,” he said. “We are trying to be respectful, we are trying to have integrity and we ask that you guys allow this.”
The District of Hope currently has a bylaw, #1428, in place that prohibits the use of land buildings or structures to sell or dispense marijuana, as well as ‘cannabis-linked paraphernalia or by-products.’
After asking for and receiving feedback from the community, in the form of a survey, Mayor Peter Robb and councillors, including Heather Stewin and Scott Medlock, have expressed the importance of moving forward on the issue of if and how to sell marijuana in the community.
“Cannabis is currently legal for use at home and wherever and if people so choose to do so, and want to buy this type of paraphernalia, they’re certainly going to do it and they’re probably going to go somewhere else to do it. So, therefore, we might as well have the option. I think your store is a good option for it,” said Medlock, who brought forward a motion to change the bylaw to remove the words ‘paraphernalia or’.
Stewin, who seconded the motion, said she supports moving forward with the change.
“It’s unfortunate that we’ve got to go piece by piece but I can accept that we’re going piece by piece because we’re moving in the right direction,” she said, adding that the location is a good one as Stratus Vapor Shop has blacked out windows and checks identification.
Before being issued a business license by the district, Coates said he had to sign a promissory letter to not sell these products. After the Nov. 13 council meeting, Coates received follow up conversations from Donna Bellingham, director of corporate services, and Mayor Peter Robb allowing Stratus Vapor Shop to become the only business to legally sell paraphernalia before the bylaw is officially changed.
Coates estimates 20 to 30 per cent of his profit at the store he formerly ran in Saskatchewan came from the paraphernalia. However, B.C. is a very different market and sales could be an even bigger chunk of his profit here.
Co-owner Sandy Renes said the business owners have had stock of these items from their last business venture in storage, at a cost of $200 a month, until this week.
But profit is not what it’s about, Coates stressed. The business is a means for his family to be able to enjoy the beauty of Hope and the mountains they moved here for. “We don’t want to get rich, we just want to be able to eat and enjoy the community that we live in, look where we live,” he said, gesturing to the surrounding scenery.
When asked if he would one day sell marijuana, Coates said he wouldn’t swear off the idea completely. “To say never is not the right word. It depends upon the community, it depends upon where it is taken and what the restrictions are,” he said.
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