The City of Vancouver has voted to approve regulations on medical marijuana dispensaries, making it the first city in Canada to do so.
Four long days of public hearing took place in city council, with speakers flooding the room to share their views and concerns regarding the city’s regulations.
“We heard from councillors that these bylaws will change nothing… but that’s wrong,” said Councillor Kerry Jang.
On June 24, 11 councillors voted 8-3, officially passing the motion to impose regulations. The three councillors that voted against the motion were Elizabeth Ball, George Affleck and Melissa De Genova.
The bylaw was supported by Mayor Gregor Robertson, Vision Vancouver councillors and Green Party Councillor Adriane Carr.
An annual $30,000 licensing fee is now imposed on medical marijuana dispensaries and requires stores and to be 300 metres away from any schools and community centres in the vicinity.
This will be the highest costing permit the city has imposed to date. The report on regulations states that the revenues will contribute to cost recovery for the additional time spent by property inspectors, licensing staff, development review staff, as well as fire and police inspections.
This motion will allow around 100 retailers in Vancouver to keep open. The federal government had previously opposed the bylaw, warning Vancouver it will increase marijuana use. Health Minister Rona Ambrose sent a letter to Mayor Robertson calling on him to close down the shops and reject the regulations instead.
Much of the debate during the hearings revolved around the city’s ban on edibles — though the new bylaws do not lift the ban.
“This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning,” Jang said, reciting a Churchill quote in front of council, suggesting the debate is long from over.