The City of Vancouver has approved new rules to govern recreational marijuana stores once the product becomes legal on Oct. 17.
The city has amended zoning and development bylaws to create a new “Cannabis Store” designation that will govern businesses selling non-medical pot.
LISTEN: City of Vancouver approves regulations for legal pot shops
“Licensed cannabis retail stores will be the only locations where non-medical cannabis can be purchased legally in Vancouver,” said the city’s chief licence inspector Kathryn Holm.
“Cannabis stores may sell dried and fresh cannabis, cannabis oil, seeds and seedlings. And all product sold in cannabis stores will need to be acquired from a federal licensed producer, through the provincial distribution system.”
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In order to qualify for the designation, a would-be pot shop will need a municipal development permit and business licence, along with a provincial cannabis retail outlet business licence.
The city’s existing suite of regulations developed for medical marijuana dispensaries, including a minimum 300-metre distance from schools, community centres, youth facilities and other cannabis outlets, will be applied to the new recreational stores.
Cannabis activist Dana Larsen, who owns two Vancouver dispensaries — one with a development permit application, and one engaged in a lawsuit with the city — said the new rules are too restrictive.
“These bylaws are written in such a way as to make it impossible for the vast majority of locations to comply,” Larsen told CKNW’s The Lynda Steele Show.
While there are more than 100 dispensaries currently operating in Vancouver, Larsen said if officials were to crack down on everyone breaking the rules there would be fewer than two dozen left.
He predicted that would lead to “huge lineups,” while leaving people searching for products that aren’t yet legally permitted with no source to buy them.
He also argued that it is unfair to restrict pot shops to 300-metre limits, when points of alcohol sale operate at half that.
“Even just going with a 150-metre limit instead of a 300-metre limit would open up a lot more of the city to have these kinds of locations. Having the distance be twice as far away as for cannabis as it is for liquor, what’s the reason for that?”
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The city said it is also continuing its enforcement program against rogue pot shops that have been flouting the city’s existing regulations.
The City of Vancouver has issued 53 injunctions against illegal dispensaries, and says that a majority have agreed to a test case, which will be heard in B.C. Supreme Court on Sept. 4.
However, 74 illegal dispensaries continue to operate in the city. What’s more, out of 3,324 tickets handed out to illegal operators, just 374 have been paid.