Ontario Superior Court rules dispensary can stay open (...for now)

Vape lounge ordered to close, but dispensary still open for ACMPR patients

An injunction filed by the City of Hamilton that aimed to force the closure of Hamilton Village Dispensary was recently put on hold by the Ontario Superior Court, allowing the dispensary to remain in operation pending a full hearing on Health Canada’s current mail order system.

Previous to the injunction, Hamilton Village Dispensary operated as a storefront medical cannabis retailer, with its Cloud Nine vape lounge located in the 2nd floor suite above the dispensary.

The City of Hamilton argued that the vape lounge was operating in contravention of a city zoning bylaw, citing that the suite above the dispensary was zoned as residential, not commercial space.

But in his August 24th ruling, Justice Lofchik drew a separation between the activities in the 2nd floor vape lounge and those carried out in the commercial storefront below, granting the injunction against the vape lounge but allowing the dispensary to remain open, with one caveat—any patients purchasing medicine must be licensed through Health Canada’s ACMPR program.

Cannabis lawyer Jack Lloyd argued for the dispensary, highlighting flaws with Health Canada’s mail order system and calling into question whether its current state constitutes reasonable access. In February of 2016, Federal Court Justice Phelan stated in his ruling of the Allard v The Queen case that, “dispensaries are at the heart of access.” Mr. Lloyd asserted that in attempting to shut down the dispensary, the local government was disrespecting Justice Phelan’s ruling.

The owner of Hamilton Village Dispensary, Britney Guerra, hopes to rezone the 2nd floor suite as a commercial space so the vape lounge can re-open, but she says the city is likely to deny the rezoning application.

“They shut Cloud Nine down because of the nature of the business,” Guerra told The Hamilton Spectator, “and they're using any excuse."

In the meantime the dispensary has been granted a stay of execution, and will remain open at least until the courts conduct a full hearing on the existing mail order system, and whether its accessibility meets reasonable standards to be considered in line with Justice Phelan’s previous ruling that restrictive access to medicine is unconstitutional.

Featured image by Rob Duval.

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1 comment

  1. Maxcatski Reply

    Here is another case that is changing the landscape of legal cannabis in Canada. I believe that we will see a number of Court challenges as soon as the new regulations are implemented. Personal plant limits and possession quantities will both be challenged, as well as the one meter limit on plant size. It looks like prohibition is on the ropes here in Canada but we have a long way to go to refine all those details. Never give up until we have a fair regime that meets the needs of the Cannabis community.