Starting today, dozens of medical pot dispensaries could be forced to close.
The city says enforcement will include ticketing as well as legal action.
Dispensaries must now be located at least 300 metres from other pot shops, schools or community centres.
Owners of marijuana dispensaries took the fight outside the steps of Vancouver City Hall Friday morning to voice their opinion.
“I see bars and liquor stores besides schools all the time, very close proximity to each other,” said one of the protesters outside City Hall.
“People have trusted relationships with a lot of these dispensaries, so it could be unfortunate for them to have to build new relationships,” added another protester.
Last October, 140 preliminary permit applications were rejected.
Dispensaries that were already open when they applied were given six months after refusal while they re-located to avoid problems with permitted zones or distancing regulations.
However, starting Friday those stores must close.
“The ticketing system and the enforcement is not meant to penalize, it’s meant to bring people into compliance,” says Andreea Toma, Chief Licence Inspector with the City of Vancouver.
Toma says the enforcement process is threefold; one is ticketing, which can be $250 per violation per day.
The other is prosecution through the BC Court, where fines can be allocated up to $10,000.
Lastly there are injunctions, which require the BC Supreme Court to order the establishment to close.
WATCH: Chuck Varabioff from Commercial Drive marijuana dispensary ‘BC Pain Society’ explains why he will fight to keep the location open, despite an order to close by the city.
Currently there are seven medical marijuana-related use (MMRUs) dispensaries that have been issued permits under the new regulations adopted last summer; another 13 are under review.
The city first has to approve a development permit before it can issue a business licence.
There are currently three licences being processed; the city says the first licence should be issued soon.
Since the new regulations first came into place, the Board of Variance has heard 18 of 62 appeals, but hearing dates do not affect closing requirements.
The city will not accept new applications for MMRUs until all active applications received in the first intake have been completed.
Bylaw officers will have a better idea by next week how many stores need to close down and how long the enforcement process will take.
As of now there are 230 applications on a wait list.