Vancouver pot shops owe City almost a quarter of a million dollars

Jan 7 2017, 12:01 am

As the City of Vancouver fights to enforce its crackdown on medical marijuana dispensaries, it has revealed that $210,000 of tickets issued to pot shops are still unpaid.

Under the City rules which came into force in 2015, 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.

But when those new rules came into force, most of the 176 pot shops that applied failed to meet regulations; many faced daily tickets of $250 if they remained open.

The City told us a third of these applications were from shops which had not yet opened, so were not ticketed, and another 32 dispensaries complied and closed.

As of January 9, 2017, the City says it has issued 1,109 tickets to pot shops that are still operating in violation of the bylaws.

Of those, only 269 tickets have been paid, bringing in $67,250 in fines – leaving $210,000 unpaid.

In total, a City spokesperson said, 60 pot shops remain open in violation of the new bylaws; 27 of them are doing so in the face of legal injunctions brought by the City.

Marijuana / Shutterstock

Daily Hive asked the City how much it had spent so far on enforcement of the new bylaw, including ticketing and court action, but a spokesperson said this data was not yet available.

“Staff are currently working on putting together this information as requested by Council and we will provide it to you as soon as it is available,” said the spokesperson.

Meanwhile, only eight pot shops have been granted business licences:

The City introduced the rules around medical 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 pledged to table a bill this year to legalize pot across Canada.

See also

Full pot shops figures update

Here’s a full update of where Vancouver’s pot shops stand. All figures were provided to Daily Hive by the City and confirmed as current on January 9, 2017.

Stage 1 – preliminary application

  • 176 pot shops made a preliminary application
  • 26 were approved to pass to the next stage
  • 150 had their applications rejected
  • 69 of the rejected shops appealed
    • 25 had their rejections overturned
    • 35 had their rejections upheld
    • 2 appeals were withdrawn
    • 7 more appeals are pending
  • 19 of the rejected pot shops relocated and had their applications approved
  • After appeals, a total of 70 pot shops have passed this initial stage
  • Meanwhile, 87 pot shops have now been ordered to close
    • 32 have now closed
    • 55 are still open (27 of these are facing an injunction)
  • 1,109 daily bylaw violation tickets of $250 have been issued
    • 269 tickets paid = $67,250
    • 840 tickets unpaid = $210,000


  • The city previously told us 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.

Stage 2 – development permit

  • 70 pot shops have made it to this stage so far
  • 18 have development permit applications under review
  • 25 have been granted development permits
  • 4 have been refused development permits
    • 1 did not appeal
    • 1 had the rejection upheld on appeal
    • 2 more appeals are pending

Stage 3 – business licence

  • 25 pot shops have made it to this stage so far
  • 10 have business licence applications under review
  • 8 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 below or on the City of Vancouver website:

Jenni SheppardJenni Sheppard

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