City of Vancouver to file injunctions against 10 more pot shops
Published Saturday, July 9, 2016 4:57PM PDT
Last Updated Saturday, July 9, 2016 6:52PM PDT
Last year, the City of Vancouver became the first municipality in Canada to adopt regulations governing medical marijuana dispensaries, but in the 13 months since the city council adopted the bylaws, it has found that making rules for where the drug can be sold is the easy part. Actually enforcing them is another matter entirely.
On Monday, the city will file injunctions against 10 pot shops that are in violation of its regulations. It’s the second wave of court-ordered closures the city has sought. It filed 17 injunctions in May.
“What the city is doing is within our jurisdiction, which is land use and business licensing,” said Andreea Thoma, chief licensing inspector for City of Vancouver. “My expectation of all business that is being conducted in this city is that they conduct themselves in compliance with the regulations.”
The city’s bylaw requires medical marijuana dispensaries to obtain a business license in order to operate, but it prohibits them from obtaining such a license if they are located within 300 metres of schools, community centres, neighbourhood houses, or other dispensaries.
When it opened the licensing process, the city received 176 applications - nearly all of which failed to meet one of the 300-metre requirements. Of the 176 applications, 162 were rejected.
The injunctions the city is seeking prioritize dispensaries that are operating close to ones that were approved for licenses, Thoma said.
One such store is Weeds Glass and Gifts on Richards Street. Owner Don Briere said he’s expecting the injunction on Monday, and planning to fight it in court.
“We already have our legal team, and we’re going to file a Charter challenge,” he said.
Some other dispensaries have voluntarily shut down when faced with an injunction, and Thoma said the city has attempted to work with business owners who were denied licenses to find new locations that meet the 300-metre requirements.
But for Briere, that’s not good enough. He said many of his clients have mobility issues, and closing his dispensary would make it more difficult for them to get their medicine.
Briere said he would prefer a 200-metre rule, such as the one the city of Victoria adopted in May, or even a 150-metre limit, which he said would make most of Vancouver’s dispensaries legal.
Marijuana advocate Jodie Emery questioned the notion that having dispensaries near schools and community centres would pose a danger to children.
“Children buy candy where cigarettes are sold,” she said. “There's no demonstrable harm from these dispensaries. They are not selling to children.”
“The city is wrong-headed to try to shut down 90 per cent of the dispensaries, which is their stated goal with the regulations and enforcement they’ve been using,” Emery said.
With files from CTV Vancouver’s Sarah MacDonald