Vancouver pot shops owe City $1 million in tickets

Aug 18 2017, 12:38 am

More than a year after the first marijuana dispensary business licence was issued in Vancouver, the municipal government is still owed more than a million dollars in pot shop tickets.

A total of only 11 pot shop licences have been issued so far, with 64 pot shops still operating in violation of the City of Vancouver’s medical marijuana bylaw.

Those pot shops are now subject to daily $1,000 tickets, and while the municipality has recouped $160,000 in fines, it is still owed $1,040,000.

Meanwhile, the City has filed 53 injunctions to try to get the non-compliant pot shops to close, but these are still winding their way through the court system.

See also

Location, permit, licence requirements

Eggs Canna on 16th Avenue, Vancouver (Eggs Canna)

Eggs Canna on 16th Avenue, Vancouver was the 10th marijuana dispensary to be granted a business licence (Eggs Canna)

The City’s pot shop bylaw was passed back in June 2015, and Vancouver’s dispensaries were first invited to begin applying for licensing by August 21 of the same year.

But it took until May 2016 before the first cannabis dispensary business licence was issued, to The Wealth Shop in West Point Grey.

Under the City bylaw, dispensaries must be in commercial zones, at least 300 m from schools, community centres, neighbourhood houses and other pot shops.

They must then apply for a development permit, and if successful, apply for a business licence, at a cost of $30,000 for retail stores or $1,000 for compassion clubs.

Some 176 pot shop operators applied when invited back in 2015. Most were unsuccessful. Some never opened, some voluntarily closed.

Those staying open in violation of the bylaw initially faced fines of $250/day, but this was increased to $1,000/day in December 2016.

The City introduced the rules around marijuana dispensaries in a bid to regulate the rapid spread of pot shops across Vancouver.

Although the shops technically remain illegal under federal law, Justin Trudeau has introduced a bill to legalize pot across Canada as early as next year.

Daily Hive asked the City how much it had spent on enforcement of the bylaw, including ticketing and court action.

A City of Vancouver spokesperson said the total cost of regulating the marijuana industry in Vancouver “has not been tabulated.”

“There are currently two by-law officers who are dedicated to marijuana dispensary regulation, ” he said by email.

We also asked where the $160,000 recouped from tickets issued to pot shops is being spent. The spokesperson said collected fines go into “general revenue.”

See also

Pot shops figures update

Here’s an update of where Vancouver’s pot shops stand, provided to Daily Hive by the City. New figures are current as of August 15, 2017.

Note: Daily Hive requested the figures marked with an asterisk (*) and in italics, but the City declined to provide them, so these are from May, the last time the City provided them.

Stage 1 – preliminary application

  • At least 178 pot shops have made a preliminary application*
  • At least 27 pot shops were approved to pass to the next stage, either immediately or after declustering*
  • At least 151 pot shops have had their applications rejected*
  • At least 69 of the rejected pot shops appealed*
    • At least 26 had their rejections overturned*
    • At least 41 had their rejections upheld*
    • 14 are currently awaiting a hearing, according the City’s website
  • At least 19 of the rejected pot shops relocated and had their applications approved*
  • After appeals, at least 72 pot shops have passed this initial stage*
  • 64 pot shops are still open without permission and subject to enforcement
    • 2,024 tickets issued
    • 406 tickets paid
    • $160,000 recouped in daily fines
    • $1,040,000 still owed in daily fines
    • City has filed 53 court injunctions against pot shops
    • At least 6 court cases have been brought against the City, according to court records

Stage 2 – development permit

  • At least 72 of the pot shops made it this far*
  • 41 have been granted development permits
  • 2 pot shops have development permit applications under review
  • 14 were refused development permits*
    • 8 appealed to the Board of Variance and had refusal overturned*
    • 5 relocated and reapplied*
    • 1 relocated while applying under a different location*

Stage 3 – business licence

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

Jenni SheppardJenni Sheppard

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