2018-02-07

Marijuana dispensary fined for operating without development permit

by Keith Corcoran

A Bridgewater building owner and the medical marijuana dispensary paying rent in the building were fined for unlawfully allowing a commercial use without obtaining a development permit at a downtown King Street address since destroyed by fire.

Defence lawyer Alexander MacKillop, representing the Green Way Wellness Centre of Dartmouth and the Cookville, Lunenburg County numbered company that owns 535 King Street, entered guilty pleas January 31 in a Bridgewater court to the Municipal Government Act (MGA) charges.

Green Way and the numbered company were fined $4,100 and $2,000, respectively, as a provincial court judge endorsed the recommendation of fines attorneys for each side put forward.

Shawnee Gregory, the lawyer representing the Town of Bridgewater, said municipal staff were alerted to a complaint concerning the King Street medical marijuana business on July 19, 2017.

A site visit days later confirmed Green Way's operations, and staff of the business were told it was operating without a development permit - a requirement of the town - and needed to apply for the paperwork.

Bridgewater received an application, but denied the permit on July 31 because the sale of medical and recreational marijuana is not currently permitted in a dispensary-like setting in Canada.

"The town is bound to follow the rules of the province and of Canada," Gregory told court. "They cannot issue permits for businesses that are contrary to those provisions."

Green Way and the numbered company were advised of the denial and issued a cease-and-desist letter.

Charges were filed after Bridgewater staff followed up on August 21, 2017 to find the business continuing to operate.

With the admission to the charges in January, a compliance order was issued to both entities.

Richard Todd of Halifax County, the recognized agent of the Green Way business, was also charged with the same offence under the MGA, but the allegation against him was dismissed following the other guilty pleas.

A late night fire in October destroyed a pair of buildings, including 535 King Street. The fire remains under investigation.

Police raided Green Way's new High Street, Bridgewater, location in December. A man and woman face multiple drug charges in connection with that matter, and both are scheduled to be arraigned later in February.

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