Budzilla Dispensary Looks for Support Ahead of Board of Variance Meeting

Budzilla dispensary owner Rejean Houle hopes with the support of the community he’ll be able to open his shop back up to serve patients once again.

“If you’d like to testify, if Budzilla has helped you in anyway, we need some people to help us out,” Houle said.

Over the past several months, the Board of Variance has seen dozens of dispensaries requesting appeals to their business license application, with many shops flooding the room with patients and supporters, something Houle would like to see to show the need for Budzilla to continue operation at its current location.

Houle is asking for supporters to turn up at city hall next Wednesday (Oct. 5) and testify on how Budzilla has helped them and the community.

“Anything would help, if you can’t get down in person, you can write a letter and send a submission in,” Houle said. “I think that if we can garner enough support and people can take the time out of their day, to just do this one thing for us, we have good odds.”

While there isn’t a time listed for the individual dispensary Board of Variance appeals, as some hearings have stretched well into the night, Houle said Budzilla is the first of four shops listed to be heard, so he anticipates he’ll be earlier in the evening.

In granting appeals to dispensaries, the Board of Variance has historically looked at physical hardships that would prevent dispensaries from moving to a new location or that may have been held against them incorrectly in their initial rejection by the city — such as faulty measurements, schools within 300 metres slated for closure or natural barriers like major roads between dispensaries and school areas.

Houle said he hopes to show hardship for his membership if the shop is forced to close, with many patients suffering from debilitating conditions that depend on the shop.

“We have many patients that are in wheelchairs, we have patients that are blind and also deaf, so it’s very important that we remain at the same location and not disrupt their routines as much as possible,” he said. “It’s stressful on them to wonder if they’re going to be able to access their medicine and also be able to get the free, regular consultations that they would get for PTSD.”

Houle also said he’s enjoyed a supportive relationship with the surrounding business community, something that will require a massive amount of work to re-establish if Budzilla moves to a new location.

Budzilla (2267 Kingsway), was originally denied a business license by the city after the operation went through the “de-clustering” process, where several dispensaries are within 300 metres of one another city officials will select one applicant based on factors such as police history and complaints received.

Houle said the dispensary has been closed since Jul. 11.

“The landlord had caught wind of the fact that we didn’t have a business license, and asked us to cease operations,” he said.

Houle said he didn’t comply with that request and a bailiff was sent, changing the locks, but has been told if the Board of Variance grants an appeal next week and Budzilla is allowed to move forward in the licensing process his landlord will permit the return of normal operations.

Houle said he will be represented by the Cannabis Growers of Canada at his appeal meeting next week, and asks that those interested in showing support at the meeting either message the group, or himself directly.