14 pot shops in Vancouver set to be given licence to operate

Click to play video: 'Vancouver approves few development permits for pot shops'
Vancouver approves few development permits for pot shops
WATCH: Only 14 out of 176 of Vancouver marijuana shops have passed the city's first phase toward being officially licenced. John Hua looks at why most didn't make the cut – Feb 2, 2016

Fourteen pot shops in the City of Vancouver are expected to be given a licence to operate within the city by the end of February.

Of these 14, 11 are currently in operation and the remaining three were approved when they suggested new locations to the city.

The city has turned down more than 160 applications because they did not meet zoning requirements and were too close to buildings like schools and community centres.

The new rules require dispensaries to stay at least 300 meters away from schools, community centers and other marijuana-related businesses.

The 14 business owners who have been given an approval still need to be given the green light by the Development Permit Board to go ahead.

Here are the 14 locations in Vancouver:

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Chuck Varabioff, the director of the BC Pain Society, is still waiting for one of his locations to be given approval but he is very happy his Broadway location has been approved.

“As somebody said, it’s almost the same feeling as a lottery winner because I know that I’m one step closer to full legalization where I don’t have to be looking over my shoulder every once in a while,” he said.

He said he will “do everything possible” to make sure his other location is also approved.

The remaining pot shop operators have been informed that they must close by the end of April or face enforcement actions by the City, ranging from ticketing to injunctions and prosecution.

Not everyone agrees with the move to regulate however. Vancouver councillor Melissa De Genova is tabling a motion today to call for a moratorium on issuing any further pot shop business licences until the federal government moves forward with their promise to legalize marijuana.

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De Genova would also like council to direct staff to proceed with the closure orders for all existing medical marijuana-related retail businesses in the city, including the 14 that are currently in compliance with the zoning and development by-law.

“That’s her opinion,” said Varabioff, “and if she thinks we’re doing such a bad thing, why haven’t the police been in, why haven’t we had a number of parents, why aren’t there petitions trying to shut us down? It’s one person’s opinion that we’re doing a bad thing, or maybe two or three people. But 14,000 members in this place obviously know something that she doesn’t and they know that we provide a safe, secure environment for people to come in and get what they need.”

The city of Vancouver voted to regulate the marijuana industry last June. In September, 2015, Health Canada warned Vancouver pot dispensaries they could face a police crackdown.

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