The City of Vancouver is following through on its promise to crack down on marijuana dispensaries by filing injunctions to close 17 of the 55 shops that have remained open after the April 29 closure deadline.
The city says the locations were prioritized based on proximity to approved MMRU development permits, community feedback, and response to enforcement actions to date.
Thirty-one stores operating in non-zone compliant locations followed the city’s instructions to close; but 55 remained opened.
To date, the city has issued 246 bylaw violation tickets.
This means the shops are at least 300 metres away from schools, community centres, neighbourhood houses, and other zoning-compliant applications.
The first business license for a medical marijuana-related retail use was issued in mid-May 2016.
If the injunctions are granted by the courts, Chief Licensing Inspector Andreea Toma says they’ll face fines… and possibly the police.
“If the business chooses to remain open they are violation of a court order. Because they are in violation of the court order they could be fined, I don’t know if it would be with the police necessarily, but they could be fined or face punishment.”
A Vancouver pot shop owner, Chris Nelson, says he’s willing to be arrested before shutting down his unlicensed dispensary.
“I never wanted to see it get to that point, and yes I’m definitely willing to get arrested to keep my store open.”
Another location closing down that is also on the list is the BC Pain Society’s Commercial Drive Location.
Owner Charles Varabioff says he’s blindsided by the move and wasn’t notified by the city, but intends to carry on as usual.
“I’m going to wake up tomorrow I’m going to come to my shop and I’m going to operate as normal. And Friday and Saturday and Sunday and every day until I hear otherwise.”
Meanwhile one pot shop, The Wealth Society, has been granted the first coveted business license.
Ten development permits have also been approved and 11 are under review. All 21 proposals are in permitted commercial zones.