White Rock Hempyz store manager Kat Thomas. (Aaron Hinks photo)

Proposal to ban pot dispensaries in White Rock would affect Langley businessman

Randy Caine and partners hope to open dispensaries once laws are changed

The City of White Rock’s plan to effectively ban cannabis dispensaries from the city prior to federal legalization could put a crimp in plans by Langley entrepreneur Randy Caine to get into the business.

The city gave first and second reading this week to legislation that pushed the plan to a public hearing, scheduled Jan. 29.

Caine, a long-time activist for the legalization of marijuana, is the founder of the Hempyz Gifts & Novelties chain of stores that operate in Langley Township and City as well as White Rock.

The stores do not sell cannabis, but do sell a sell a variety of hemp-based products – such as creams and clothing – and smoking paraphernalia.

Caine said that he and his partners are not particularly interested in turning the waterfront Hempzy’s into a cannabis dispensary.

But they are interested in opening a legal stand-alone cannabis dispensary in Langley and White Rock areas.

“We’ve discussed this,” Caine said. “Looking forward, under a controlled model, I don’t believe that Hempyz would be the appropriate outlet for that – we’re really a retail location. I will make applications within the communities that we are already in for stand-alone outlets that would maybe fly under the Hempyz banner.”

Caine said it would be “very beneficial” to open a Hempyz cannabis outlet in White Rock because residents “understand how we operate. We’re not the new kids showing up. They’ve already got a sense that we’re willing to follow the rules and work with the community.”

The province, which is still ironing out details of the sale of cannabis, announced that pot will be sold by both public and private retailers.

During Monday’s meeting when council voted to advance the discussion to a public hearing, city director of planning Carl Johannsen said the proposed ban to existing zoning was an “interim step” until the province has presented its regulatory framework regarding cannabis.

Caine said the opportunity provided through a public hearing is a “wonderful thing.”

“My concern is that when bylaws are passed that prohibit something, it’s much easier to bring the bylaw in than it is to erase it. There is an element of concern that I do have here,” Caine said.

Caine, who will be out of the country during the public hearing, said he’s “quite certain” his daughter Tara will be attending the public hearing.

In 2015, Tara Caine opened Releaf Compassion Center – a public cannabis consultation storefront for potential medical-marijuana users – in the Five Corners neighbourhood. The business left White Rock after the storefront was damaged from the Five Corners fire May 2016, but continues to serve clients out of its Langley City location.

Caine said she would “absolutely love” to consult with the city as they design bylaws relating to cannabis dispensaries.

“Work with them on setting rules, protocols, or whatever the community may have concerns with. If they’re concerned with it being too close to schools, want us to have alarm systems, or if they really want to make sure there are certain protocols we adhere by,” Tara said, adding that she will be attending the Jan. 29 public hearing.

White Rock Business Improvement Association executive director Jennifer Brandon said that while the BIA understands what the city is “attempting,” it will prioritize the needs of local businesses.

“I understand kind of their approach, because they’re waiting for more federal regulations to come through to figure out where they should be. That being said, we’re going to support our business members wherever we can,” she said, noting the BIA would “absolutely support” businesses looking to sell cannabis under a legal framework.

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