The City of Vancouver has entered a new phase in the battle to rein in its booming but still illegal storefront marijuana industry.
Today (May 31), the city filed for injunctions against 17 dispensaries that have continued to operate in contravention of a legal framework for marijuana businesses that the city adopted in June 2015.
Should those shops go on selling cannabis, they may face further and more severe penalties imposed by the courts.
Six of the 17 injunctions were issued to Weeds Glass and Gifts, the city’s largest marijuana chain, which was founded by Don Briere. Jodie and Marc Emery’s new store on Beatty Street is also among dispensaries targeted. A complete list of stores named in today’s legal action appears below.
The move comes one month after an April 29 deadline that the city gave for unsanctioned storefronts to close.
There are 31 dispensaries that have either received a licence, have a licence under review, or are making their way through preliminary stages of the licensing process. Those shops are not subject to enforcement measures and, while illegal under federal law, have permission from the city to sell medicinial medicinal. All other cannabis storefronts have been ordered to close.
According to a May 31 city news release, since the April 29 deadline, 55 shops have continued to break the rules.
It states that of those 55, the 17 targeted for injunctions were selected based on complaints, community feedback, their response to previous enforcement actions, and the proximity by which they fall within distance requirements that forbid dispensaries from operating within 300 metres of a school, community centre, or another dispensary.
The release notes that the city has also issued dispensaries with 246 tickets for bylaw infractions since the April 29 deadline passed. Each ticket carries a fine of $250.
“The City continues to inspect and ticket stores that remain open after their closure deadline,” it reads. “Stores that do not close voluntarily will be subject to legal action.”
Although the city’s application for injunctions marks an escalation of enforcement against the dispensaries, it maintains the softer approach the city and the Vancouver Police Department have taken with the storefronts.
That’s in stark contrast to Toronto, where dozens of dispensaries are also selling marijuana illegally via storefronts. On May 26, Toronto police staged a coordinated action across the city that saw raids on 45 dispensaries and resulted in 90 arrests and 186 criminal charges.
Under the leadership of Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the new health minister, Jane Philpott, recently said the government would table legislation to legalize recreational marijuana in the spring of 2017.
In the meantime, the man tasked with guiding Trudeau’s legalization process, former Toronto police chief Bill Blair, has repeatedly said police should continue to arrest people for marijuana crimes.
Here’s the complete list of Vancouver dispensaries facing injunctions.
The Healing Tree – 8180 Champlain Crescent
Cannabis Culture The Healing Tree – 512 Beatty Street
Divine Ventures – 8640 Granville Street
Weeds Glass & Gifts – 1232 Burrard Street
Weeds Glass & Gifts – 1108 Richards Street
Weeds Glass & Gifts – 104 – 1807 Burrard Street
Weeds Glass & Gifts – 405 Skeena Street
Weeds Glass & Gifts – 6657 Main Street
Weeds Glass & Gifts – 2580 Kingsway
Vancity Medicinals – 1299 Kingsway
Imedikate – 6128 Fraser Street
Green Cross Society B.C. – 2145 Kingsway
Lotusland Cannabis Club – 3474 West Broadway
Health Lifestyle Dispensary – 1092 Kingsway
Sea to Sky Dispensary & Lounge – 100 – 68 East 2nd Avenue
BC Pain Society – 2908 Commercial Drive
Buddha’s Sister House of Cannabis – 2918 West 4th Avenue