LETTER: We support reconciliation AND law enforcement

Published on October 19, 2021 by Contributed

Chris Nuessler PH CannabisPhoto: PH Cannabis
Chris Nuessler

Cannabis store owner and retired RCMP officer Chris Nuessler writes an open letter to BC’s Premier and the Solicitor General:

To the Honourable John Horgan MLA and The Honourable Mike Farnworth MLA:

We are the owners of PH Cannabis Co, a non-medical retail cannabis store in Summerland.  We support the coalition of retailers who have recently contacted you with regard to private retail cannabis in BC and the serious issues we private retailers face in this market

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We have now been in operation one year, which has allowed us to experience all that has been brought to your attention.

Coming from the law enforcement background, as a retired RCMP officer, cannabis was certainly not in our wheelhouse. We have completely changed our mindset advocating for cannabis in all forms. We started a personal journey for our granddaughter supported by her paediatrician in the use of CBD cannabis oil for her extreme form of epilepsy eight years ago. Though Kyla is still very disabled, the relief she has achieved using this simple herbal application is undeniable.

We founded Purple Hemp Co Cannabis Consulting along with Kyla’s Quest to support the use of cannabis as medicine. Few doctors have the time or desire to add to their heavy work load with the additional intense scientific education in understanding specific cannabis products, forms of application and dosing. Local medical practitioners and doctors are now seeing the positive results for their patients! Our consultants include a working registered nurse which has further gained their respect and confidence as a referral source.

We understand the need to provide appropriate scientific information so we attended medical cannabis conferences at UCLA, Pasadena, Calif., and  UBC. We learned from the science researchers and doctors basic information to assist our clients in choosing appropriate cannabis products for their specific condition. We conducted this business at Purple Hemp for four years, which was not a cannabis retail store though we did refer to legal cannabis retailers for the purchase of product.

This led us to open our own non-medical cannabis retail store! Getting to the opening was a very complicated, extremely expensive process and continues to produce ongoing unreasonable expenses which do not apply to any other retail business, including alcohol.

For example:

  • We had to rent a location for two years before we finally got a licence to operate and sell product on top of the $7,500 application fee and local business fees/licences.
  • Opening a simple bank account was $2,500 (we understand this can range up to $5,000 depending of the financial institution) with an ongoing monthly fee of $250 for monitoring our account.

We would be happy to elaborate on all the frustrations and assist in streamlining the application/operational process in future. Right now we are most concerned with actually staying in business and not have to close our doors due to the cost of operating, lack of advertising flexibility, and retail market saturation.

We concur on every point in the letter from the coalition with regard to: BC government stores and their obvious advantage for being able to mail out product; the 15% advantage for purchasing product; and their priority purchasing power for desired licensed producer products while undercutting all private retailers.  We can give specific examples if required.

We also feel strongly your need to immediately address the illegal black market industry on Indigenous lands.  No matter your comments on the issue of reconciliation, going soft on enforcement is not supporting reconciliation. This is illegal activity in BC that needs to be immediately addressed. Let’s make one thing clear… we support reconciliation. We suggest you work closely with these communities to establish their own legal cannabis industry and bring the credible Indigenous stores on board with licensing while funnelling future tax dollars immediately back into their community. That is Reconciliation.

Take the Osoyoos Indian band as an example. Legalization has aligned the cannabis industry closely with alcohol and this band operates a legal winery. Can you imagine if you were soft on enforcement of illegal alcohol for these communities?  Work with community leaders like Chief Louie to establish a framework for retail and enforcement.

We want to also note that cannabis is not a First Nations right, as it is a plant that is not native to this continent nor has it been used by Indigenous communities since beginning of time. All plants originated in Europe and Asia within the last centuries.

Your comments with regard to unsafe black market product falls on deaf ears to a public that has been entrenched in cannabis no matter the legalities. Fear mongering will not work due in part to mistrust of government with the fear mongering advertisements of the past. We can assure you, most cannabis consumers do not trust your comments or your recommendations. We have clients that tell us they get their stronger edibles and products at a much cheaper price at these locations. As advocates for regulated controlled product we know how important it is to keep people safe with not only quality of product, ensuring they are free of contaminants but also to ensure accurate dosing. Let’s face it, lecturing to someone who has been a part of this industry longer than all of us is senseless.

All the issues will not go away and need to be addressed immediately. Specifically, cannabis locations on Indigenous lands are increasing not decreasing and federal government needs to be involved to support your inclusive collaboration with these communities.

Chris Nuessler, RCMP retd., 
Elaine Nuessler cannabis consultant and entrepreneur, 
Frank Halbauer, Airline Pilot,