Marijuana dispensary Public Hearing 6 pm June 10 (Wed): Recap of issues, resources, and questions.

Marijuana dispensaries

The Public Hearing on Medical Marijuana Dispensaries is set to start at 6pm on Wednesday, June 10th, 2015 [Update: the hearing will continue on June 11th, 6pm]. We’ve already written about a number of issues related to the staff recommendations (please see our posts here, here and here). The City has added a memorandum dated June 8, 2015 to the meeting agenda to include several last minute updates.

To recap, the proposed changes would be put in place to:

  • establish a 300m minimum separation between marijuana shops
  • require a 300m separation between marijuana shops and schools or community centres
  • ban edible products
  • 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 some of the commercial zones in the city

There has been discussion in the mainstream media about the 300m separation required between shops and schools or community centres (More than 70 per cent of Vancouver pot shops violate proposed rules, Chad Skelton, Vancouver Sun, May 1, 2015). If the majority on Council were to pass the proposed bylaws and subsequently enforce those bylaws, then a number of marijuana outlets would be closed.

There are marijuana shops that operate in commercial zones that are spot zoned as CD-1 (Comprehensive Development). Would the proposed bylaws force these shops on CD-1 zoned properties to close?

zoning CD-1 marijuana shops
The data released by the City of Vancouver to the CBC shows that the Serenity Natural Health Society is located on Keefer Place, a CD-1 zone and it would be subject to closure (illustrated above). The City does not intend to amend the CD-1 zones that have existing marijuana shops:

The CBC created an interactive map that shows the locations of most of the marijuana dispensaries in Vancouver. The map is colour coded to show existing shops in red as ones that are within 300m of a public school or a community centre.

MMJ CBC map

CBC released an interactive map showing the distribution of marijuana dispensaries in Vancouver

The distribution of the existing marijuana shops in the City shows that there are few stores in the southwest part of Vancouver; the stores in Marpole would have to be closed under the proposed bylaws. A total of 9 shops would be left on the Westside in Kitsilano and Fairview. There are reportedly 98 marijuana shops in Vancouver at present, with the overwhelming majority of the stores located in East Vancouver.

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, questions like these:

  • 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?
  • How does the City plan to measure the 300m distance; is it from the entrance of a school, from the building, or from the property line of the school yard? Are private schools considered?
  • 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?
  • Could the federal government take legal action against the City of Vancouver?

If the City of Vancouver passes the bylaws, then will there be enforcement? At present, all of the marijuana shops are operating illegally. Will some of the shops be closed? Will the shops stop selling edibles? Or will there be only partial enforcement?

Further information on the proposed changes are available in the following posts:

A number of zoning changes are proposed that would allow Marijuana shops to operate in some of the commercial zones in the City. CD-1 (spot zoned) sites would not be included.

The zoning changes are proposed to allow for ‘A Marijuana-Related Use’ in any commercial-retail district (i.e. C-1, C-2, C-2B, C-2C, C-2C1, C-3A, C-5, C-5A, C-6, C-7, C-8, Downtown District ODP, Downtown Eastside Oppenheimer District ODP, FC-1, HA-1, HA-1A, HA-2 Gastown, HA-3) provided that the site is not:

  • within 300 metres of a school or community centre;
  • within 300 metres of another Marijuana-Related Use;
  • located in the Downtown Eastside other than on sites located on Hastings Street or Main Street;
  • located in the Granville Entertainment District;located on a minor street(defined as any street that does not contain a painted center line).

Many of the Commercial zones in the City are colour coded as red, on the City’s zoning map:
Zoning Map - September 21, 2010

Here’s a detail of zoning along West 4th Avenue and Broadway (the red ‘C’ zones are affected while purple ‘CD-1’ zones are not impacted):

Zoning Map - September 21, 2010

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