Pubdate: Fri, 09 Mar 2018
Source: North Shore News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2018 North Shore News
Author: Jeremy Shepherd
Page: A1


Back off, bud.

The City of North Vancouver is aiming to slam the lid on the host of
unlicensed pot shops that have operated with seeming impunity in
recent years following Monday's council meeting.

The crackdown, which involves civil court injunctions, is meant to
give the city enough time to draft its own regulations about where and
how marijuana dispensaries can operate within city limits.

"I do believe that it should be legalized but it needs to be
regulated," explained Mayor Darrell Mussatto. "This enforcement action
here is allowing us some time so that we can put in these regulations
before it actually becomes legalized."

The city is set to move with enforcement on four or five medical
marijuana shops in the city, according to the mayor. With nationwide
legalization slated for summer, Coun. Rod Clark argued that killing
the buzz enjoyed by pot shops would be a waste of resources. "I think
it's foolish to spend taxpayers' money enforcing something which is
going to change as of August of this year."

There remain questions about how the system will operate, particularly
in regards to medical marijuana, Clark noted. He was alone in his
opposition, with Coun. Linda Buchanan emphasizing the need for
businesses to follow city rules. "Every other business in this
community is abiding by the rules," she said.

The city opted to deny business licences to Weeds Glass & Gifts on
Marine Drive as well as Lotusland Cannabis Club on East Second Street
in May 2017 after both businesses applied to sell medical and
recreational marijuana. Weeds opened in 2015 with a licence to sell
marijuana-related glassware but not actual marijuana.

It's time for the city to move to "the next stage," according to
Buchanan. Coun. Holly Back concurred. "I cannot sit here and honestly
support businesses that are illegal," Back said. "Are we condoning
that? That every business in North Vancouver can work without a
business licence?"

Council voted 4-1 to begin enforcement on the non-compliant pot shops.
Couns. Don Bell and Craig Keating did not attend the meeting. The city
also voted to prohibit all marijuana sales until new regulations are

Michael Wuest, owner of Weeds on Marine, expressed surprise that city
council plans to pursue pot shops in court. "I'm not quite sure where
that's coming from," he said.

Wuest said he'll wait and see what the city does before talking to
lawyers about a response. He added while the federal government has
set July 1 as a goal for legalization of recreational cannabis, it's
unclear when pot will actually be legal to buy from storefronts in
B.C. In the interim, "We feel very strongly about having people have
access to the product," said Wuest.

There are currently five pot shops operating in the City of North
Vancouver. The District of North Vancouver took two marijuana shops
that opened there to court to force them to close.

- - with files from Jane Seyd
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