Pubdate: Mon, 08 Jan 2018
Source: Hamilton Spectator (CN ON)
Copyright: 2018 The Hamilton Spectator
Author: Steve Buist
Page: A1


Number has tripled over the past year, according to city report

A new report shows the number of marijuana dispensaries operating in
the city has tripled in the past year despite increased bylaw
enforcement efforts.

According to the report released Friday, there are 46 marijuana
dispensaries operating in Hamilton, compared to 15 in operation last

While the federal government is expected to legalize marijuana this
summer, marijuana dispensaries are illegal, according to the report -
prepared by Ken Leendertse, Hamilton's director of licensing and bylaw

People who are approved for medical marijuana use are supposed to
obtain their supply through mail order from a federally-licensed grower.

To date, the city has issued 76 zoning notifications to property
owners and business owners related to marijuana dispensaries.

That has led to 27 zoning charges in total, 12 business licensing
violation notices, seven bylaw violation notices and four property
standards orders.

Aside from the 46 dispensaries still operating, another 12 have been
closed and 17 other locations are still under investigation.

Yet the increased attention from the city's bylaw enforcement division
has had limited success in actually closing the dispensaries, which
frustrates Stoney Creek councillor Doug Conley.

In September, Conley brought forward a motion to council seeking the
help of Hamilton police in the fight against dispensaries.

Conley was particularly upset about a marijuana dispensary operating
on King Street East, near the Attic Pizza Parlour, which he says is
still in operation.

"I'm really frustrated," said Conley. "You can't do anything about

Conley says he's been told it can take up to 60 days to obtain a
warrant but even if police remove everything "the guy can start up the
next day."

"Apparently, the city can't do anything," Conley said.

"And the courts are reluctant to prosecute them because the courts are
saying 'Well, things are going to change in six months.'"

The report notes that the city's bylaw service is part of a
multi-agency task force along with Hamilton police, public health, the
Hamilton fire department and the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario.

But certain legalities, primarily related to search warrant
requirements, have meant that bylaw services and Hamilton police have
not worked together on enforcement targeting marijuana

The city is currently seeking an injunction against a marijuana
dispensary that would require it to cease violating licensing and
zoning bylaws.

A court date for a hearing has not yet been scheduled.
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