Vernon pot shops to pay thousands in business licensing fees

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Vernon to charge pot shops thousands in business licencing fees
Vernon to charge pot shops thousands in business licencing fees – Apr 25, 2018

If you want to sell cannabis legally in Vernon, be prepared to pay for that privilege. It’s up to municipal governments to set the price of civic business licences.

Vernon city council has just made its decision, and some are complaining the fees are too high.

Shops will pay a $5,000 application fee the first year and $2,000 a year to renew.

READ MORE: Marijuana storefronts booming in Vernon, despite lack of licencing

“I think it is fairly reasonable in the industry that we are in. There is a lot of money to be made. That is not the focus here though,” Hasia Glaim of MMJ Total Health Care said.

However, at another dispensary across town, the owner of Herb’s Healing Centre, Russ Stevenson, is much less impressed.

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“It is basically, as we have been running into, another money grab,” Stevenson said.

“Everybody’s opinion of this is that everybody is going to make a fortune. The biggest problem with that is we are not going to do any more business than what a beer store is going to do.”

However, the city has made cannabis business licences much more expensive than licences for almost every other type of business, saying the extra money covers staffing costs.

“At this point, what we are aware from the province, is there is going to be a public consultation process involved in each and every application. So there is advertising, correspondence, reports, there are a number of things that go into that [which] might be over and above what our typical process would be,” Kim Flick, the city’s director of community infrastructure and development said.

READ MORE: As other Okanagan cities crack down, Vernon moves to allow existing pot shops

The new fees will apply to retailers even before legalization.

However, there is a catch — only businesses that sign a covenant with the city will be able to get a licence and some aren’t on that track.

“Those businesses that did not enter into the covenant process will be advised that they need to close in the near future,” Flick said.

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“Those businesses that do not comply with that will be levied with daily fines and we will seek an injunction for their closure.”

The city wants those closures to occur by the end of May.

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