Medical marijuana shops at Public Hearing on Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Cannabis plant

Cannabis sativa

New regulations proposed for medical marijuana shops are listed as the only agenda item for the Public Hearing scheduled for Wednesday, June 10th, 2015. There are no changes or updates to the staff policy report that was presented to City Council on April 28, 2015. City staff recommend that Council adopt changes to zoning bylaws to allow for regulated medical marijuana retail stores in a number of commercial zones in Vancouver. At present, marijuana shops are operating illegally in the City.

The new medical marijuana retail store regulations seek to:

  • establish a 300m minimum separation between marijuana shops
  • require a 300m separation between marijuana shops and schools or community centres
  • ban edibles
  • require shops to be on major streets (streets that have a painted center line)
  • require an annual $30,000 business licence
  • establish a framework to review retail store applications
  • limit shops to commercial zones

The proposed bylaw changes would create a new conditional use for a “Marijuana-Related Use” (Retail Dealer – Medical Marijuana-Related Use). As a conditional (and not an outright) use, a Development Permit will be required for marijuana stores in Vancouver. The policy report sets the criteria on how the stores will be evaluated by City staff. Existing marijuana shops will need to apply for a Development Permit within 30 days if the proposed bylaw changes are enacted. There does not appear to be room for the grandfathering of existing locations that do not meet the City’s criteria (such as the stores that are adjacent to schools or community centres).

The CD-1 zones in the City often allow for commercial retail uses. It appears that CD-1 (spot zoned) properties will not be permitted to have marijuana shops. Similarly, light industrial zones (M-1, MC-1, IC-2) that allow retail uses will not be changed to allow for medical marijuana retail shops. The following summary shows the impacted zones:

pot shop zones

The proposed changes would allow marijuana stores in the various Commercial zones that are along many of the arterial roads in Vancouver. Likewise, the zoning changes are proposed for the Chinatown (HA) zones, the Downtown District (DD) and the Downtown-Eastside/Oppenheimer District (DEOD) zones. It might be worth considering that many of the ‘Commercial’ zones in Vancouver are in fact mixed zones that include residential. The C-2 zoning found along Kingsway allows for commercial uses at grade and residential uses on the upper floors.

In the event that Council decides to pass bylaws to regulate marijuana stores, it may be possible for the Federal Government to take legal action against the City of Vancouver.

The Public Hearing will start at 6pm on June 10th at City Hall. Speakers can sign up to speak by sending an email to publichearing@vancouver.ca or by calling 604-829-4238. In an unusual move, the City did not schedule a single public consultation ‘open house’ or an information session about the proposed marijuana shop policy prior to the Public Hearing.

So that the public can provide useful comments to City Council, anyone speaking or writing to Council might find it helpful to ask our public servants or elected officials to provide information, on record, to questions like these:

  • Does (or will) the City have a list of who owns the shops? Are some interconnected? Are any backed by or associated with gangs and/or criminal organizations.
  • Does the City know where the shops acquire their supplies? Are there (or will there be) any checks to make sure that supply chain is only from legal sources?
  • How are the patients purchasing medical marijuana to be screened?
  • How will the City monitor/regulate exhaust/fumes from the stores, and impacts of the shops on nearby store owners and residents?

References

Shop across from Britannia offered free joint and cookie

Shop across from Britannia Community Centre offered a free joint and cookie (May 1, 2 & 3, 2015)

Vision Vancouver received donations from marijuana shops in 2014

Vision Vancouver received campaign contributions from marijuana shops in 2014

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