2nd Vancouver pot shop gets business licence

Jul 9 2016, 4:00 am

The City of Vancouver has issued its second business licence for a medical marijuana dispensary – the Urban Earth Medical Society compassion club.

Lee Jackson, Urban Earth managing director, told Daily Hive it feels like they’re creating history.

“We’re the first compassion club ever to be licensed in Canada,” Jackson said. “We’re obviously ecstatic the City of Vancouver allowed us to be a part of this.”

The Urban Earth Medical Society on Renfrew Street in Vancouver (Urban Earth Med)

The Urban Earth Medical Society on Renfrew Street in Vancouver (Urban Earth Med)

Jackson says it wasn’t all plain sailing. After beginning the application process last year, they were asked to relocate, because their store failed to meet new zoning regulations.

“It was a hard road. There’s a lot of things they want to do to protect the community and safeguard the neighbourhood.”

But after moving to 1605 Renfrew Street, they were finally able to open last Wednesday, selling indicas, tinctures, oils, hashes, balms, sativas – everything besides edibles.

“We asked for regulations and we got them, so we appreciate Vancouver and we appreciate the fact that we can serve our patients again.”

Staff at the Urban Earth Medical Society in Vancouver (Urban Earth Med)

Staff at the Urban Earth Medical Society in Vancouver (Urban Earth Med)

To purchase products from Urban Earth, you need to be 19+ and become a member, by submitting completed medical application forms and government issued ID.

The City of Vancouver issued its first ever medical marijuana business licence to cannabis dispensary The Wealth Shop, in Point Grey, in May.

Compassion clubs differ from cannabis dispensaries in that clubs are typically not-for-profit ventures, whereas cannabis dispensaries are often operated as businesses.

10 more pot shops facing legal action

Meanwhile, the City is planning to file injunctions against a further 10 pot shops to force them to close, as it continues enforcing its new bylaws for marijuana dispensaries.

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Under new City rules, all dispensaries must be in commercial zones, at least 300 metres from schools, community centres, neighbourhood houses and other approved pot shops.

But when those new rules came into force on April 29, more than half the pot shops in Vancouver had failed to meet the new regulations and faced daily fines of $250 or legal action if they stayed open.

While 33 stores have closed down, the City told Daily Hive 53 remain open regardless.

The City already filed injunctions against 17 of those pot shops in June – now it plans to hit another 10 with legal action next week.

Of the 17 shops facing legal action, one has voluntarily closed and another is closing at the end of the month when their lease is up, said the City.

Meanwhile, two more have said they will close in the fall and the rest are planning to face down the City in court.

One of those pot shop owners, Chuck Varabioff, of BC Pain Society on Commercial Drive, has filed his own legal documents against the City.

The city introduced the new rules in a bid to regulate the rapid spread of medical marijuana dispensaries across the city, even though they technically remain illegal under federal law.

Full pot shops figures update

Under the new city rules, all dispensaries must go through three stages, first going through a preliminary application to be deemed to be in a commercial zone, meeting the requirements laid out above.

Once they passed that stage, they then had to apply for a development permit, followed by a business licence at a cost of $30,000 for retail stores or $1000 for compassion clubs.

Here’s a full update of where Vancouver’s pot shops stand, as of July 8, according to the City:

Stage 1 – preliminary application

  • 176 pot shops made preliminary application
  • The city told us about a third of these applications were in fact from shops which had not yet opened. It is not clear whether these have since opened or not.
  • 140 were rejected and asked to close within six months. Here’s a full list.
  • 62 appealed (Daily Hive is seeking updated figures for how many of these have been rejected, approved, deferred, withdrawn, or still have hearings scheduled)
  • 11 pot shops caught in 4 cluster situations (within 300 m of each other) were subject to random draws – of these 5 pot shops were selected
  • 86 businesses open after April 29 without an approved preliminary application were ordered to close.
    • 33 have closed
    • 53 are still operating
    • 27 facing legal action
      • 4 have closed or plan to close
  • 423 daily bylaw violation tickets of $250 have been issued
    • 82 tickets paid

One thing worth noting for clarity here – some rejected shops may have relocated and been approved in a separate application. This is estimated to make up only a small proportion of applications, but figures on this were not available.

Stage 2 – development permit

  • In its latest update, the city did not confirm how many pot shops made it to this stage. It provided information on only 27 stores.
  • 12 have been granted development permit
  • 15 have applications under review

Stage 3 – business license

  • 12 pot shops made it to this stage, the City has confirmed
  • 4 pot shops have applications for a business licence under review
  • 2 pot shops have been issued with a business licence

A map showing the locations of all those stores eligible to apply for or issued with a business licence, can be found on the City of Vancouver website: vancouver.ca

Jenni SheppardJenni Sheppard

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