City Council approved regulations and zoning changes to allow for medical marijuana dispensaries to operate in Vancouver. A few amendments were added to the recommendations by staff. A new category for non-profit or ‘compassion clubs’ was introduced that so these groups could operate at a reduced fee of $1000 annually. As well, changes were made to favour non-profits over for-profit marijuana dispensaries. The $30,000 annual fee remained unchanged for the for-profit shops.
The amended regulations carried with an 8 to 3 vote (with Vision and Green in favour, NPA against). Councillor Affleck raised concerns that dispensaries could potentially operate illegally for 6 months to a year before the bylaws could be enforced by the City (potentially creating an unfair playing field with legal dispensaries).
As a result of the changes, dispensaries that operate within 300 metres of a school or community centre will need to close or relocate. The new rules will also establish a minimum 300m distance between marijuana shops. Outlets located on properties zoned as CD-1 or as light industrial will be closed. The City will ban the sale of edible marijuana products. Of course, it remains to be seen whether the City will really enforce the new regulations.
The debate on medical marijuana was initially supposed to take place after the Council Committee meeting on June 24th; however, the agenda was varied so this item was dealt with in the morning. A blog post that appeared on June 23rd on the Cannabis in Canada website already predicted that the “business license fee will be $1000 a year“ for Compassion Clubs. As well, the post also revealed that the discussion on marijuana dispensaries would take place in the morning (in other words, was there advance notice that Council would vary the agenda?). Finally, four dispensaries are named to be the first in line to receive approval (the Green Cross Society, Eden Medicinal Society, BC Compassion Club Society and the Dispensary). Here’s a tweet that contains a link to the article:
— travis lupick (@tlupick) June 24, 2015
Donors to Vision Vancouver in 2014 included the following organizations:
It remains to be seen whether two of the establishments on the donors list, the Dispensary and the Eden Medicinal Society, are indeed awarded licenses by the City. The Cannabis in Canada blog post did accurately predict the amendment to reduce fees for non-profits and the timing of the Council decision.