Pubdate: Mon, 12 Jun 2017
Source: Metro (Vancouver, CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 Metro Canada
Author: Wanyee Li


One dispensary owner says licensing process is too strict

It's been almost two years since Vancouver city councillors adopted
new pot-shop regulations, but after dishing out more than 1,600
tickets, the city is still dealing with 57 marijuana retail businesses
that are not abiding by the rules.

That doesn't include the 38 dispensaries or compassion clubs that
don't have licences but are exempted from ticketing because they say
they are going to put an application together, said Kathryn Holm, head
of licensing at the City of Vancouver.

"(If) shops have not been fully compliant but they are working towards
it, we have exempted them from enforcement," said Holm.

But the city's patience for those businesses is waning and the
licensing office may begin ticketing them too.

"We're finding now that several of the shops in that stream are not
actively working toward compliance," Holm explained.

Ten marijuana retail businesses have completed the city's licensing
process but 13 new pot shops have opened since the city adopted its
regulatory framework for dispensaries, she said.

One long-time dispensary owner says the process is too

"There are only 10 dispensaries licensed in the city," said Dana
Larsen, director of the non-profit Vancouver Dispensary Society.
"That's not a very big number considering how much time and effort has
gone into this."

Neither of his dispensaries have a business licence.

Bylaw officers started slapping $250 fines on pot shops operating
without a licence in June 2015. Back then, there were about 80
marijuana retail businesses in the city, according to Holm.

Bylaw officers generally fine a non-compliant dispensary once a week,
she said.

The city upped the fine to $1,000 in December 2016. A licence for
medical marijuanadispensaries costs $30,000 and a licence for
compassion clubs costs $1,000.

Larsen has been hit with numerous fines for his two businesses, called
The Dispensary.

"I'm trying to not pay them because I think it's a bizarre process,"
he said.

One of his locations, at 1180 Thurlow St., was on its way to getting a
licence until the Board of Variance called for another appeal hearing
this November, he said. The other location, at 880 East Hastings St.,
is unlikely to receive a licence because it is located in an area
zoned for manufacturing, he explained.

It's been an arduous process, but one Larsen prefers to the

"I would rather see this heavily flawed licensing process than endless

Larsen maintains he doesn't plan to close up shop anytime

"My intent is to keep my dispensaries open as long as possible using
every legal method available but in a worst-case scenario the city can
win those type of battles if they're willing to push hard enough," he
said. "We'll do what we can." The city has filed 27 injunctions in an
attempt to force unlicensed dispensaries to close down but none of
those cases have been heard in court yet, according to Holm.

The City of Vancouver has received 52 complaints about pot shops
through its 311 line in 2017 so far.

The federal government has announced it will legalize marijuana by
Canada Day 2018.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt