The name of what could be Sidney’s first store selling recreational cannabis stands accused of being insensitive toward Buddhism.
Sidney resident Richard Talbot said the store’s proposed name of Happy Buddha Cannabis is “really insulting toward anybody who is a Buddhist or who has Buddhist friends.”
While not a Buddhist himself, Talbot said his has family ties to India, going back some 200 years. They raised him to be sensitive and respectful of all religions – a point also made toward the end of his letter sent to Sidney councillors, as they prepare to hear the case for or against the business proposed for the 2400-block of Beacon Avenue.
While he has not heard directly from Buddhists themselves, they rarely speak up on these issues, he suggested.
“They are just offended and keep it for themselves,” he said. Talbot also wondered, “How on Earth would that have gone under the radar” against the backdrop of various social movements such as Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ2.
Cindy Pendergast and Brad Styles, who own Happy Buddha Cannabis, said they chose the name to reflect a “light-hearted and open” worldview.
“As experienced retailers of over 20 years and responsible parents and neighbours we always respect good dialogue,” they said in a note to the Peninsula News Review.
They said the Buddha name and symbol “are commonly seen, accepted and respected within personal and business environments” as any cursory Internet search would show.
“While we love the name Happy Buddha, we are also of the opinion that life, well-lived, should be about listening, learning and growing.”
It is not clear how many Buddhists live in Sidney specifically and the Saanich Peninsula specifically.
Questions about the name of the store represent the latest twist in its story as the business faces Sidney councillors after a successful court challenge against the municipality following its initial denial over window rules since changed. Interested parties have until 4 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 18 to submit written comments to the Town of Sidney, which has scheduled a special public participation period for Monday, Sept. 28, during council’s regular meeting starting at 6 p.m.
Paula Kully, Sidney’s communications coordinator, said the municipality does not have any jurisdiction over businesses names. “This is a provincial government function,” she said.
Brendan Wright, senior public affairs officer with the ministry of attorney general, said the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB), said the office does not regulate business names beyond provincial requirements related directly to cannabis sales.
“For example, names and signage of a non-medical cannabis retailer cannot imply that they are a provider of medical cannabis, or indicate the store is associated with government,” he said.
Ultimately, it is licensee’s responsibility to determine the suitability of a name subject to existing rules, he said.
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