City set to begin crackdown on Vancouver pot shops

Jun 1 2016, 1:32 pm

The City of Vancouver will begin taking action against almost 100 pot shops this weekend, as it begins enforcing its new bylaws for marijuana dispensaries.

“City inspectors will start enforcement action on any medical marijuana-related use (MMRU) that is in a non-compliant location and continues to operate without a business licence,” a spokesperson told Vancity Buzz.

Meanwhile, several campaigners protested the city’s actions outside city hall on Friday, amid claims many pot shops plan to stay open regardless.

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.

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.

But as it stands, more than half the pot shops in Vancouver have failed to meet the new regulations and may be fined or face legal action if they stay open.

What’s more, only seven pot shops have got to the stage of applying for a business permit – and none have paid the $30,000 fee yet.

That could impact enforcement of the new bylaws, since the City has not set aside any funding source for legal action they may need to take against Vancouver’s pot shops.

Here’s a full breakdown of the pot shop situation, still correct as of April 29, according to the city:

Stage 1 – preliminary application

  • 176 pot shops made preliminary application
  • The city told Vancity Buzz 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 (11 were rejected, 4 were approved, 2 were deferred, 1 withdrew, the rest have hearings scheduled)
  • Any businesses open after April 29 without an approved preliminary application must close. The city estimates this is “almost 100.”

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 would not confirm how many pot shops had made it to this stage, but logically it would appear to be 40. It provided information on only 39 shops.
  • 7 were granted development permit
  • 13 have applications under review
  • 19 are under review in 7 clusters

Stage 3 – business license

  • 7 pot shops made it to his stage
  • 3 have applications under review
  • The city would not clarify the status of the remaining four dispensaries.
Jenni SheppardJenni Sheppard

+ News