Vancouver Becomes First Canadian City to License and Regulate Pot Shops

Marijuana dispensary regulations have been approved by Vancouver’s city council, making it the first city in Canada to license and regulate pot shops that sell medical marijuana.

There are already over 100 retailers open.

Coun. Kerry Jang called the controversial bylaw “a common-sense approach to dealing with the explosion of medical marijuana shops in our city.” It will require retail dealers to cough up a $30,000 license fee — the city’s highest permit cost. It also prevents shops from operating within 300 metres of community centres, schools, and other marijuana shops.

It’s a sad day for some BC stoners and business owners. Under the new bylaw, dozens of shops will be forced to close because they don’t meet such requirements. The bylaw also forbids the sale of edible products like brownies and cookies. It does allow edible oils.

Regardless of the specifics, Health Minister Rona Ambrose isn’t too happy about the whole thing. In a letter to Vancouver’s mayor and city councilors, she reminded them that marijuana was illegal and said she felt the bylaw would increase marijuana use and addiction.

“I am deeply disappointed by the City of Vancouver’s decision to ‘regulate’ illegal marijuana storefronts across the city,” Ambrose wrote in a statement yesterday.

“Storefronts selling marijuana are illegal and under this Conservative government will remain illegal. We expect the police to enforce the law.”

Jang says that the bylaw isn’t regulating the product but the business itself. In city council Yesterday, Coun. Geoff Meggs repeated the city’s position that it’s taking action because the federal government has not, and called Ambrose’s position “backward and destructive.”

Yikes. It sounds like everyone could use a little hit of a joint. Just kidding.

One thing’s pretty certain – the legalization of marijuana will only continue to “spark” a heated debate in the lead-up to October’s federal election.