Today, June 24, 2015, Vancouver became the first City in Canada to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries. It comes as yet another victory to those on the Cannabis Crusade, and another devastating blow to Federal Health Minister Rona Ambrose’s anti-weed agenda.

In an 8-3 vote, Vancouver City councilors decided to impose new regulations on the city’s rogue pot-shops. Mayor Gregor Robertson was quoted saying “we have this proliferation of dispensaries that must be dealt with.”

 There are a number of regulations that are being proposed, including the following:

  • Dispensaries will pay a $30,000 licensing fee;
  • There will be restrictions on where dispensaries can operate, i.e.
    not within a certain distance of schools, community centers,
    and each other;
  • Non-profit compassion clubs will be able to pay a licensing fee of only $1,000

Some may speculate that it is unfair that non-profit clubs pay such a small licensing fee compared to regular dispensaries – but Councilor Kerry Jang pointed out that Compassion Clubs offer other services such as psychological counselling and nutritional information/advice. They also assist people in transitioning from medicating with marijuana, to other treatment options (when possible). He suggested that the licensing fees collected from compassion clubs could be used to fund addiction treatment programs.

 While this can only be considered a huge success to medical marijuana advocates, the clock has started ticking: dispensaries now have 60 days to apply for a licence. Some shops, particularly those located in the Downtown Eastside, the Granville Street Entertainment District, and those on Pender Street, will be forced to close.

There are a number of rules in place for dispensaries located in clusters. More information can be found here.

We still recommend keeping a criminal lawyer from team Tarnow on speed dial at all times – remember: freedom to toke isn’t a joke – you can still face criminal charges for the possession of marijuana.

 More on this story as it develops!