A B.C. Supreme Court decision issued Thursday has ordered the closure of more than 20 illegal marijuana dispensaries named in a lawsuit filed by the City of Vancouver.
“This decision reaffirms the City’s authority over land use and our municipal business licensing for cannabis retail, and confirms the regulatory regime introduced in 2015 was well within the City’s jurisdiction to establish,” Kaye Krishna, general manager of development, buildings and licensing, said in a press release. “It also signals that any cannabis retail store operating outside City regulations can and will be enforced against using all the tools at the City’s disposal to the fullest extent moving forward.”
The city had filed a total of 53 injunctions against unlicensed marijuana-related businesses since enforcement started in April 2016. Some of those operators had already closed before the case was heard in court in September, however, the remaining 28 stores have been ordered to close or face court-ordered fines or jail time, or both.
Between 2013 and 2015 the number of illegal marijuana-related businesses in the city grew by 100 per cent per year, the city said, and in the first six months of 2015 the number of dispensaries increased from 60 to 100.
In April 2016, the city its licencing regulations for marijuana dispensaries and all existing dispensaries at that time were given until the end of the month to close or face enforcement — 31 complied and another 71 have since complied with the regulations and closed or are no longer selling marijuana.
In May of that year, the city issued its first set of injunctions against 17 dispensaries that remained open after the April deadline. Since then, a total of 53 injunctions have been issued and the city has handed out 3,713 tickets, totalling close to $3 million in fines.