A board shows different products for sale at a medical marijuana dispensary in Vancouver

Public debate over Vancouver pot shops begins

Public airs views at hearing over medical marijuana dispensaries in Vancouver

By The Canadian Press

VANCOUVER – A public hearing on Vancouver’s proposal to regulate pot shops is heating up with more than 150 people set to speak.

Pot-legalization advocates, dispensary owners and patients crammed city hall on Wednesday evening as the hearing began.

City manager Penny Ballem says the number of authorized medical marijuana users in British Columbia accounts for nearly half of all those in Canada.

The city is proposing new regulations to control the rapid growth of illegal pot shops, which have multiplied from fewer than 20 to 94 over the past three years.

The regulations would include a new business licence category, a $30,000 fee and a requirement that stores be 300 metres away from schools, community centres and other pot shops.

Ballem says the city hopes to reduce youth exposure and serious crime and is now considering allowing up to five licences per owner rather than just one.

“We have tried to achieve a really balanced approach here to allow people who need to access marijuana for medical issues to be actually able to do that but to protect the public,” she says.

“Some people think we’re too strict and some people’s input is that we’re too lenient.”

Selling marijuana over the counter is illegal in Canada — regardless of whether it’s medical or recreational — and the federal government has strongly warned against the plan.

The city has said that the federal government’s strict medical marijuana laws have fostered the rise of dispensaries in Vancouver.

Dispensary owners are split on the proposed regulations, with some complaining the hefty fee and location requirements will put them out of business, while others support the rules as a step toward legalization.

The hearing is expected to stretch over several days

Just Posted

Vibrant alco-inks one of many mediums for sale at club’s annual show

Garibaldi Art Club’s fall show and sale to feature 220 works of art

UPDATE: Arrest made in Maple Ridge purse-snatching incidents, another for fraud

Man and woman, both 34 and from Maple Ridge, facing charges.

Maple Ridge women’s shelter society gets a $2.1-million boost

Cythera Transition House Society gets money for 21 homes

Maple Ridge councillors named to local groups

Division of labour for new council

Clear skies for Fraser Blues Remembrance Day flyby

It was the first time the formation team flew over the Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows Remembrance Day ceremonies

Kuhnhackl scores 2 odd goals as Isles dump Canucks 5-2

Vancouver drops second game in two nights

Fear of constitutional crisis escalates in U.S.; Canadians can relate

Some say President Donald Trump is leading the U.S. towards a crisis

B.C.-based pot producer Tilray reports revenue surge, net loss

Company remains excited about ‘robust’ cannabis industry

Canada stands pat on Saudi arms sales, even after hearing Khashoggi tape

Khashoggi’s death at Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul further strained Riyadh’s already difficult relationship with Ottawa

Feds pledge money for young scientists, but funding for in-house research slips

Canada’s spending on science is up almost 10 per cent since the Liberals took office, but spending on in-house research is actually down

Stink at B.C. school prompts complaints of headaches, nausea

Smell at Abbotsford school comes from unauthorized composting operation

Disabled boy has ‘forgiven’ bullies who walked on him in stream, mom says

A Cape Breton teen who has cerebral palsy was told to lie in a stream as other kids walked over him

Letters shed light on state of mind of B.C. mom accused of daughter’s murder

Trial of South Surrey mother Lisa Batstone begins in BC Supreme Court

Most Read