Nova Scotia

Halifax denies medical marijuana dispensary business permit

Halifax is denying a business occupancy permit to a newly opened medical marijuana dispensary in Cole Harbour, but the owner says the city is "ill-prepared" for a growing business in Canada.

Tasty Budds files appeal to the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board

The owner of Tasty Budds says the medical marijuana dispensary is helping people gain reasonable access to their medication. (CBC)

Halifax is denying a business occupancy permit to a newly opened medical marijuana dispensary in Cole Harbour because "the product you are proposing to sell has not been legalized." 

That has triggered an appeal by Tasty Budds to the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board.

"Our city is just ill-prepared," Tasty Budds owner Mal McMeekin told CBC News. "This is a growing business that is happening all around the country. I don't feel we should have to stop because the city isn't prepared. 

"We are helping people gain reasonable access to their medication. We have a moral and legal right to do that."

A pointless battle

Tasty Budds is located in Cole Harbour. (CBC)

McMeekin said the business only sells to people licensed to receive marijuana as medication. He claims the city is involved in a pointless battle, given a key Federal Court ruling last week that gave Parliament six months to redraft its medical marijuana regime because a portion of the current system was unconstitutional.

"The system they have in place is a violation of our rights," said McMeekin.

Halifax sees the Tasty Budds case differently. It said the storefront operation still flouts the law.

"In this case the sale of medical marijuana is currently prohibited under federal regulation," said Tiffany Chase, a spokesperson for the municipality. "That is the basis under which we decided whether we can extend business occupancy permit for this operation." 

Tasty Budds not alone

Christopher Enns, owner of Farm Assist Cannabis Resource Centre, says the Crown's case is crumbling. (CBC)

Tasty Budds is not the only metro Halifax dispensary to run afoul of authorities. Chris Enns is facing production, possession and trafficking charges related to busts of his Farm Assist medical marijuana dispensaries.

On Monday, Enns was granted a three-week delay in his case so Halifax provincial court Judge Bill Digby could evaluate his claim the Federal Court ruling means his charges should be dropped.

"Their case is crumbling," said Enns, who is self represented. "Until Parliament creates a constitutional medical regime, the current Controlled Drugs and Substances Act laws prohibiting possession, prohibiting trafficking, prohibiting cultivation are not in force.

"We're asking the courts to accept that decision as effective now so those facing criminal charges can have them resolved."

'The law is changing'

Crown prosecutor Jonathan Langlois-Sadubin says in the Enns case there is a reasonable prospect of conviction on the charge. (CBC)

In granting the adjournment, Digby did not accept that argument, but he told federal Crown prosecutor Jonathan Langlois-Sadubin the Federal Court decision was making "the situation interesting."

"The law is changing much as quicksand does," Digby told the Crown.

Langlois-Sadubin said the Crown will proceed against Enns since it's only the exemptions to drug laws contained in the medical marijuana regime that have been struck down.

"At this point the Crown still believes there is a reasonable prospect of conviction on the charge," Langlois-Sadubin said.

Enns will be back in a Dartmouth court on March 3 to face similar charges related to a bust of another dispensary. At that time he will seek another adjournment to argue that the Federal Court decision should allow him off the charges.

About the Author

Paul Withers


Paul Withers is an award-winning journalist whose career started in the 1970s as a cartoonist. He has been covering Nova Scotia politics for more than 20 years.


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