Pubdate: Mon, 01 Feb 2016 Source: Richmond Hill Post (CN ON) Copyright: 2016 Post City Magazines, Inc. Contact: http://www.postcity.com/ Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/5543 SHOULD MUNICIPALITIES LICENSE AHEAD OF FEDS? Toronto councillor Joe Cressy has 'dozens' of dispensaries in his ward Last month, Kimberly, B.C., became the first municipality to licence a medical marijuana dispensary. Vancouver has plans to follow suit. Tamara Duggans received her business licence from the Town of Kimberley in June 2015. She paid $100, same as the flower shop and the shoe store. But long before then, she was out talking to the RCMP and municipal officials about her business plan. "I wanted to make sure that, if I opened up, five minutes later they wouldn't bust me and that would be the end of it," she said. "It was the beginning of a number of lengthy chats." The RCMP official, explained Duggans, came to the conclusion that it wasn't "the mandate of the RCMP to close dispensaries." Duggans stressed that it is important to be open and communicative. "We did a lot of laying the groundwork before we got to the business and opened the storefront," she said. When regulations are finally passed down when the federal government legalizes marijuana, her business might not survive. "Nobody really knows what it [legalization] is going to look like," she said. "I'm hoping that, as one of the front-runners, I'll be in a better position to adapt." By regulating, the City of Vancouver is, according to its website, attempting to keep dispensaries to established commercial zones and at least "300 metres from schools, community centers, neighbourhood houses, youth facilities that serve vulnerable youth as well as othermarijuana-related businesses." Vancouver is also charging dispensaries a $30,000 fee. Coun. Joe Cressy heads up the City of Toronto's drug strategy implementation panel. "We are not seeing a rash of complaints, but a lot of questions," said Cressy. "We are in a situation now where we have operators that are filling a vacuum, and it's an illegal grey zone. And that's a problem. We need to have the federal government move quickly and at the same time responsibly. When we talk about a regulatory approach to legalization, that doesn't mean pot is available on every corner." Cressy represents Ward 20 in Toronto, an area that includes Kensington Market and student neighbourhoods such as the Annex. "I have dozens [of marijuana dispensaries] in my ward," said Cressy. "Especially in Kensington Market. I'm in the heart of downtown Toronto."