Pubdate: Wed, 22 Mar 2017
Source: Victoria News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 Black Press
Author: Pamela Roth


The time is up for marijuana dispensaries that have yet to apply for a
business license or rezoning in order to continue operating in Victoria.

The city will now be launching legal proceedings for cannabis
retailers who've failed to comply with the marijuana dispensary
regulations that took effect in November and require businesses to
obtain a $5,000 license and pass a $7,500 rezoning process to operate

So far, 33 cannabis retailers have applied for a business license and
23 have applied for rezoning. Sixteen have yet to apply for anything.

"The fact that 16 haven't applied at this point, it is a
surprise...Most, if not all of the retailers in the city, were
participating in the consultations and the feedback sessions," said
city clerk Chris Coates, noting it's difficult to say what the
enforcement will involve at this time.

"The city's objective is to have them either become compliant or cease

City officials have been working with the industry to gain compliance
with the regulations that require retailers to be 200 metres from
schools and 200 metres from other permitted marijuana storefronts. A
grace period of 60 days was provided to allow businesses to meet the
requirements. Education and support was also provided during that time.

By the time December rolled around, the city was seeing a steady
influx of applications. So far, four have gone to committee of the
whole and one application has been tentatively scheduled for a public
hearing April 13.

Coun. Geoff Young, however, is becoming unsure of the city's general
policy when it comes to the dispensaries.

During a recent rezoning application for a dispensary already
operating on Cook Street, Young said he sees "real difficulties" with
the policy, noting the bylaws don't address a lot of important issues,
such as quality of the products being sold and whether they're

"In some senses, I think we're doing too much in terms of the zoning.
In some senses, we're not doing enough because we are in the process
of approving and licensing operations which may or may not be selling
safe products," said Young, who hopes those issues will be addressed
when the federal government comes out with regulations.

"I think that frankly this whole area needs to be left in the hands of
the courts and the law enforcement processes to decide how this
business is regulated during this interim period of expected

During a recent visit to Victoria, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took
a tough stance on current marijuana regulations, reminding citizens
the law remains the law until the framework is established to regulate
and control the drug.

Police in other Island communities have shut dispensaries down, but so
far no action has been taken in Victoria.

Acting police chief Del Manak said the dispensaries are assessed on a
regular basis and will become a priority when officers receive
information that organized crime is involved, if they're dealing to
youth or if it's flaunted in officer's faces that clients don't need
to have a medical need in order to purchase the drug. An officer
regularly engages with and monitors the businesses to see whether
they're contributing to violent crime or seriously disrupting the
surrounding community.
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