Opinion is split at Vancouver City Hall on the effect B.C.’s planned pot regime will have on unlicensed dispensaries.
On Tuesday, the provincial government announced that recreational marijuana will be distributed wholesale through the Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB), with retail sales to come through a mixture of private and public stores.
The province says it’s still hammering out the details of that retail model.
In Vancouver more than 150 pot dispensaries are already in business.
LISTEN:BC Liquor Distribution Branch named wholesale distributor of cannabis
Dozens of them have earned approval through the city’s own medical marijuana bylaw, while nearly 70 others continue to flout the city’s rules — some of them already acting as de facto recreational pot shops.
Vision Vancouver Coun. Kerry Jang welcomed the province’s next steps on the path to legalization, suggesting the rules will force rogue pot shops to fall in line or face stricter enforcement.
“They’ll have little recourse but to come into compliance if they want to stay open,” Jang said.
“I will say that a number of the shops are trying to come into compliance now in anticipation. They’re actively talking with our staff about looking at different locations.”
Figures from the city indicate 42 dispensaries have closed down since the city’s bylaw came into effect.
WATCH: Reaction to legalization of marijuana in B.C.
But NPA Coun. Melissa De Genova argued the new rules are a sign the city should have waited for Ottawa to act first, suggesting the city has already wasted millions on enforcement against dispensaries.
“Ultimately, the court injunctions that we need to file at the City of Vancouver are costing taxpayers money,” she said.
LISTEN: B.C. outlines plans for pot legalization
De Genova also wondered if the new rules would simply add to the existing tab the city is facing.
“I question whether or not this is just going to cost more money, if the city actually is going to be able to close down these dispensaries and get into line with the province’s programs.”
The City of Vancouver has gone to court seeking injunctions against 53 dispensaries since its pots shop program came into effect in May 2016.
City officials have handed out more than 2,400 tickets, worth nearly $1.6 million, of which about $1.4 million remains unpaid.
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