Vernon tells four marijuana retailers they must close by end of the week

The City of Vernon has sent registered letters to four of the city’s 17 cannabis retailers telling them they must agree in writing to close down on Friday at the latest.

For months, the city has been going through a covenant process with marijuana stores, any shop that didn’t register a covenant on their property would be required to close.

The four retailers that the city is now trying to close down did not register covenants.

The city said three of the four businesses did reply in writing, agreeing to close.

However, the fourth, an online-only delivery service, has not agreed to close. The city said it will be “commencing enforcement procedures against them.”

The city said the business could face fines of $1,000 a day.

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“As they are an online delivery only store, we have found it very challenging to locate them, so we are doing our best to do that to ensure they are not operating within the city limits,” said Kim Flick, Vernon’s director of community infrastructure and development.

The next step for the city’s push to regulate its marijuana retailers will be to pass a zoning bylaw amendment that prohibits retail marijuana sales.

However, the 13 marijuana retailers that have agreed to a covenant will be able to apply for a temporary use permit and a business license that will allow them to continue operating in the short term.

The point of all this legislative maneuvering, from the city perspective, is to make sure city council retains the power to decide where marijuana retail sales are allowed in the city.

The city is concerned that, without the covenants, businesses might be able to argue grandfathered status once recreational cannabis sales are allowed, and the city would not have the ability to decide where in the city the stores can operate.

READ MORE: New Brunswick launches marijuana health awareness campaign

As Flick explained in April, in covenants the shops agreed to “close up business if at the end of the day zoning does not permit them to operate” at their location.

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In an interview Monday afternoon, the city would not name the three cannabis shops that had agreed to close, but said that information would eventually be released in a statement.

The city also could not say how many of the 17 cannabis retailers were online-only businesses.

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