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Time to regulate Vancouver pot businesses, says city hall -

by papapuff » Wed Apr 22, 2015 1:36 pm

Vancouver Courier


Time to regulate Vancouver pot businesses, says city hall

Vancouver Courier
April 22, 2015

The city is proposing of new regulations to manage Vancouver’s burgeoning medical marijuana businesses.

The first marijuana-related business — the B.C. Compassion Club — opened in Vancouver in 1997. Now more than 80 such businesses operate in the city without business licences. The number has grown at a rate of 100 per cent per year over the past two years, according to a city report that goes before council April 28.

The report states that the proliferation of unregulated business poses a risk to youth, public health, the city’s general quality of life, and impacts the local economy.

The city proposes to use the building, fire, zoning and development, licences and heath bylaws to regulate the businesses.

A person who wants to open such an operation would be permitted to if they apply for a development permit that includes a community notification process, which also requires schools to be notified, and if they apply for a building permit for any construction work to be done. A business licence would require a $30,000 annual fee based on cost recovery for regulation, a police information check for the applicant and all employees, and a good neighbour agreement.

A marijuana-related business would be permitted in an commercial-retail district as long as it was not within 300 metres of a school of community centre, within 300 metres of another marijuana-related use, located in the Downtown Eastside other than sites on Hastings or Main Streets, and not in the Granville Entertainment District or on a minor street.

Such businesses would also have to meet operational regulations such as not displaying wares or advertising to minors and refusing entry to minors.

More to come...
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by papapuff » Wed Apr 22, 2015 2:08 pm

Straight.com


City of Vancouver proposes rules and licence requirements for marijuana dispensaries

by Travis Lupick on April 22nd, 2015

The City of Vancouver has made a major announcement regarding marijuana dispensaries. It’s proposing official rules for the shops plus a new business licence category and specific zoning requirements for stores selling cannabis.

The suggested framework is laid out in a staff report that’s scheduled to go to council on April 28.

Among the new rules, a “marijuana-related business” will not be allowed to operate within 300 metres of a school, community centre, or neighbourhood house. There should also be a buffer of 300 metres between each dispensary.

The city is also creating a new category of business license for stores selling marijuana. Obtaining a license will involve a here-stage review process.

In addition, city staff suggest there should be a licensing fee of $30,000 imposed on each business. Owners must also sign a “good neighbour agreement” and acquire a development permit that includes a “standard community notification process”.

For years, Vancouver marijuana dispensaries have operated illegally, growing in number from less than a dozen five years ago to more than 80 today.

The Vancouver Police Department has long maintained that while the sale of recreational marijuana is illegal, it does not have the resources to shut down every dispensary in the city, nor does it consider the shops a policing priority.

The story is being updated as more information becomes available.
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by papapuff » Wed Apr 22, 2015 2:15 pm

CBC.ca


Vancouver's booming marijuana retailers could face new regulations

$30,000 licensing fee, mandatory distancing requirements proposed for city's medical marijuana shops

CBC News Posted: Apr 22, 2015

The City of Vancouver is looking at new rules to regulate the booming retail marijuana business, including a $30,000 licensing fee to help recover the cost of enforcement.

"In the last two years, the city has seen a rapid growth rate of 100 per cent per year in marijuana-related businesses ... [going] from 60 to 80 in the last four months alone," said a statement issued by the city.

While medical marijuana shops have become commonplace in Vancouver in recent years, there is little in the way of regulations to control them, the statement notes.

"Up to now there has been a lack of a clear and transparent regulatory framework from the federal government," said the statement.

"While the city has no jurisdiction to regulate the sale of marijuana, it does have clear jurisdiction to regulate how and where businesses operate in our city."

The proposed regulations include:

300 metre distancing from schools, community centres, neighbourhood houses and other marijuana-related businesses.

A licensing fee of $30,000 to recover costs paid by the City to manage and enforce new regulatory framework
Operators to sign a mandatory Good Neighbour Agreement.

Operators to require a development permit which would include a standard community notification process.

Geographic restrictions specific to areas in the city, limiting businesses to commercial areas.

Applicants will be required to go through a three-stage review process, including point-based evaluation criteria, in order to obtain a business licence.

The proposal is expected to be presented by city staff to councillors next week, and public hearings on the issue are expected.

Earlier this week marijuana supporters came under fire after the annual 4/20 pot rally downtown forced police to close several major streets during the afternoon rush hour.
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by papapuff » Wed Apr 22, 2015 2:33 pm

cknw.com


Vancouver looking to regulate marijuana dispensaries

Vancouver, BC, Canada / (CKNW AM) AM980
Liza Yuzda
April 22, 2015

The City of Vancouver is looking at regulating the licensing and zoning of medical marijuana dispensaries.

A staff report to be presented to council next week says the number of pot related business in the city are growing exponentially.

There are now 80, up from 60 just a few months ago, all operating without licenses.

The report stated that though the city has no authority to regulate the sale of pot it does have jurisdiction over the running of businesses and where they are located.

If passed, the new regualtions would keep pot related businesses 300 meters from schools, community centres, neighbourhood houses and other pot businesses.

Applicants will have to go throught through a three stage review process and if successful pay a 30-thousand dollar licensing fee.

Dori Dempster, with Medical Cannabis Dispensaries, says the fact the city is looking at licensing their industry is another step in gaining legitimacy.

“This is one of the things that we’ve been doing in self regulating is hoping that there comes a day where everybody says this is a reasonable busienss provinding an essential service to sick people in our city.”

Lawyer Kirk Tousaw, who represents a number of BC dispensaries, says many businesses have been waiting for this step and hope to work with the city on the fine details.

Next week City Council will look at proposed regulations that include a review process, licensing fee and limitations on locations.
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by papapuff » Wed Apr 22, 2015 5:28 pm

24 Hours Vancouver


Vancouver pot shops face hefty new fees

By Michael Mui, 24 Hours Vancouver
Wednesday, April 22, 2015

A new plan at Vancouver City Hall proposes to charge marijuana dispensaries $30,000 per year to operate, kick out existing shops where there are “clusters” of dispensaries, and prohibit pot shops near community centres and schools.

The city’s proposal is aimed at dealing with the numerous “marijuana-related businesses” in the city that have exploded in growth over the past two years.

Coun. Kerry Jang said the proposal allows city hall to flex its regulatory muscles over the business and land use side of things while leaving drug regulations to the federal government. A staff report says more than 80 of the pot shops have operated in Vancouver without a business licence. Vancouver police have often said dispensaries operate outside of the law, though police have generally left them alone.

“We’re concerned (shops) are too close to schools and community centres, and so we’re responding to that,” Jang said, adding it’s also suggested that shops be banned from the Granville entertainment strip and the Downtown Eastside.

The plan also aims to decluster areas with more than one dispensary. It’s expected that businesses who’ve had run-ins with the police, didn’t apply for building permits, had complaints, or are selling pot for profit, could be asked to move based on a “demerit” system.

Otherwise, where they are located will tie to a lottery system.

The price of doing business will be expensive. At $30,000 per year, Jang said, the business licence for pot shops will be three times more than the current top rate of $10,000 per year for massage parlours.

“It’s simply cost recovery,” Jang said. “We have police time to do criminal record checks, we have inspection staff already going down there bi-monthly to inspect, the fire chief or his staff has to go inspect to make sure the fire code is met.

“Some are low maintenance — these are high maintenance businesses.”

Dispensary operators like Don Briere, who owns Weeds Glass & Gifts shops in Vancouver, say the proposal unfairly discriminates against their trade.

“What do they charge for a bar involved in the Stanley Cup riot? Is their fee $30,000 a licence or $3,000 a licence?” he asked.

“The costs will be passed onto the consumer. I can’t buy an item — a shirt — for $10 and sell it for $8 ... I’d have to at least double the cost.”

Briere expects there may be at least several of his 12 Vancouver locations that would need to move if the proposal is passed.

"If they’re going to treat us like that, I’ll go to court, I’ll sue," he said.
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by papapuff » Thu Apr 23, 2015 12:39 pm

570 News


Federal government disapproves of Vancouver plan to regulate medical pot shops

The Canadian Press
Apr 23, 2015

VANCOUVER – The federal government is critical of the City of Vancouver’s plan to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries, saying it does not support making drugs more accessible.

A spokesman for Health Minister Rona Ambrose says marijuana use is still illegal in Canada and the government expects all local cities and police to respect and enforce the law.

City staff will present a report to council next week recommending regulating the booming medical pot industry with rules including a $30,000 licensing fee and rules that the shops be at least 300 metres from schools and community centres.

Coun. Kerry Jang says the federal government’s restrictive medical marijuana laws left the city with no choice but to regulate dispensaries.

He says current laws that prevent people from growing their own marijuana make it difficult for patients to access medicine and have created public health and safety issues in Vancouver.

Advocates are divided on the new rules, with “Prince of Pot” Marc Emery calling them cynical and unnecessary, while his wife Jodie Emery says they are a positive step toward legalization.
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by papapuff » Thu Apr 23, 2015 1:20 pm

CKNW News Talk 980



One marijuana dispensary owner happy with potential Vancouver regulation

Vancouver, BC, Canada / (CKNW AM) AM980
Shelby Thom
April 23, 2015

“We are really excited about it.”

Tyler Shepherd is the manager of VanCity Weed on Granville Street.

City officials say the entertainment district on Granville could be a no-go zone for medical pot shops.

But Shepherd says he doesn’t mind moving, and welcomes more regulation.

That’s even though Vancouver is already one of the most self-regulated medicinal marijuana dispensaries in the city.

“We try to keep our records and our compliance stuff, even though there is nothing to really comply with yet, at a pretty high level. So I mean our estimation is that this is going to get rid of some of our competition that doesn’t really pay attention to that stuff, we are prepared to pay whatever fees the city comes up with.”

Shepherd says they will pay whatever the city wants.

“Do whatever they need us to do to make sure that our place in the city is established in such a way that it can continue to exist without drama and issues coming up.”

Other operators say the proposed $30,000 dollar licensing fee is too steep.
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by papapuff » Thu Apr 23, 2015 1:22 pm

The Province



City hall ponders new rules for Vancouver's medicinal-marijuana industry


BY NICK EAGLAND, THE PROVINCE APRIL 22, 2015

As city hall ponders turning Vancouver into Canada’s first municipality with its own regulated retail medicinal-pot industry, one dispensary owner says “it should have been done a long time ago.”

City council will consider a proposal next Tuesday to implement sweeping regulatory requirements for the city’s 80 pot dispensaries, including a $30,000 licensing fee and new zoning requirements, according to a release.

If the proposal is accepted, dispensaries would have to apply for and obtain development and building permits, and business licenses.

Don Briere, owner of Weeds Glass and Gifts, which has a dozen dispensaries in Vancouver, said he welcomes such changes.

“I thought that it’s about time, it should have been done a long time ago,” Briere said. “The bottom line is that regulation will help keep the gangs and all the bad people out of the game. It is a win-win-win situation, even for people who don’t smoke pot.”

Briere said he’s operated Weeds as legitimately as possible from the start, paying GST, PST and property taxes. His staff of 44 pays income tax and contributes to CPP, he said, and he’d welcome regular inspections.

But dispensary operators who oppose the city’s proposed regulatory changes, he said, “should go the way of the dodo bird.”

City manager Penny Ballem said Wednesday that while the city has no jurisdiction over the legality of marijuana, which is a federal matter, it can control dispensaries through its zoning and business-licence regulations.

“In the greyness and the confusion and the sort of gap we are in, in terms of the federal approach, the city has decided we have to step in,” Ballem said. “We don’t have jurisdiction over the sale of marijuana, but we do have a very clear jurisdiction over businesses.”

Under the new regulations,dispensary operators would have to pay a $30,000 fee to “recover costs from the significant burden across the city to manage and enforce new regulatory framework.”

They’d also have to pay up to $5,000 each year for a business licence, depending on square footage.

New zoning regulations would keep dispensaries 300 metres from schools, community centres, neighbourhood houses and each other, similar to requirements in Washington and Colorado states, where pot is legal.

Dispensaries would be banned from minor streets, the Granville Entertainment District and the Downtown Eastside, with the exception of Main and Hastings streets.

Shops would be required to have a transparent storefront, and applicants and their employees would have to agree to annual police information checks.

Food products other than oils would no longer be allowed in the shops, meaning no more cookies or brownies.

neagland@theprovince.com

twitter.com/nickeagland
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by papapuff » Thu Apr 23, 2015 1:39 pm

National Post



Rona Ambrose ‘deeply concerned’ about Vancouver’s plan to regulate marijuana dispensaries


Peter O'Neil and Jeff Lee, Postmedia News | April 23, 2015

VIDEO

OTTAWA — The Harper government fired off warning shots Thursday at Vancouver City Council, urging the city to not regulate and therefore legitimize the local pot-selling business.

“I am deeply concerned by reports that the City of Vancouver intends to discuss a proposal to regulate illegal drug dispensaries at an upcoming council meeting,” Health Minister Rona Ambrose told Mayor Gregor Robertson in a letter obtained by The Vancouver Sun.

“Legitimizing and normalizing the use and sale of marijuana can have only one effect: increasing marijuana use and addiction.”

She said Vancouver’s growing sector of local dispensaries goes beyond the federal government’s 2013 regulations on the sale of pot for medical purposes.

“These regulations are clear and do not provide municipalities with the authority to legitimize the commercial sale of marijuana, which remains an illegal substance,” she told Robertson.

“Storefronts and dispensaries do not operate within a ‘grey zone,’ and the law is clear: they are illegal.”

Earlier Thursday a statement from Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney’s office also condemned Vancouver’s initiative.

“The fact is that marijuana use is still illegal in Canada,” said spokesman Jeremy Laurin.

“Our Government does not support making drugs more accessible. We expect all local cities and police to respect and enforce the law.”

Neither minister provided an “or else” in the event the city goes ahead with the initiative.

The city said it plans to permit the operation of dispensaries under a proposed framework that rigidly sets out who can operate businesses and under what conditions.

The plan, which will go to city council Tuesday, ignores the legality of marijuana and instead tries to deal with the growth of unlicensed dispensaries over the last few years.

As of mid-April, city officials count more than 80 such shops, a fourfold increase since 2012, when the federal government changed the rules for how medical marijuana users obtain the drug.

“The city has no jurisdiction to regulate the sale of marijuana, but it does have clear jurisdiction to regulate how and where businesses operate in our city,” said a news release issued by city staff Wednesday.

“Up to now there has been a lack of clear and transparent regulatory framework from the federal government.”

Under staff’s proposal, the city will levy a $30,000 annual administration fee. Business licences will also cost up to $5,000 per year, depending on square footage. And they will all have to re-apply annually.

The city is also going to stringently limit where the shops can go; they can’t be within 300 metres of schools, community centres and each other. And in an effort to rid certain neighbourhoods of established shops, the city is banning them from side streets. In the city’s Downtown Eastside, where many of the shops are now located, they will only be able to open along Hastings and Main streets.

Councillor Kerry Jang said the city was forced into this decision because of what he called Ottawa’s “prohibitionist approach.”

City manager Penny Ballem said while the city does not have jurisdiction over the legality of marijuana, it does have powers under its zoning and business licence regulations to control the shops. Ballem said the proposal would mirror restrictions enacted in Washington state and Denver, where marijuana is legal for sale.



In real terms, there is little that the Harper Conservatives can do about the approach Vancouver is taking



A B.C. criminologist said Ottawa’s warnings may be little more than rhetoric given that the RCMP does not police the city.

“In real terms, there is little that the Harper Conservatives can do about the approach Vancouver is taking — and I don’t think they really want to do anything, at least in practical terms,” Neil Boyd, head of Simon Fraser University’s criminology department, told The Sun.

“Most Canadians believe that marijuana use and distribution should be regulated in accordance with public health, and not regarded as a crime. This is not conduct deserving of moral condemnation and the possibility of imprisonment.

“But in an effort to support their core constituency, the government remains quite willing to trot out this rather outmoded tale of moral condemnation. It’s just rhetoric, not any kind of practical action.”

He pointed out that Justice Minister Peter MacKay has mused publicly about the possibility his government will bring in a ticketing regime for simple pot possession.

“What are they really saying? Do they think people should be prosecuted and the courts should be flooded with thousands of people?”
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by papapuff » Thu Apr 23, 2015 1:45 pm

News1130


Do you care if a marijuana dispensary is set up near your kids' school?

by MARTIN MACMAHON
Posted Apr 23, 2015

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – Parents of kids at a Vancouver elementary near a marijuana dispensary on Commercial Drive have mixed views about the city’s plan to weed out pot shops near schools.

This comes ahead of a report from city staff next week which would outline a rule banning dispensaries from setting up within 300 metres of a school.

The Vancouver Pain Management Society would technically be barred from setting up if these rules were in place before. It’s within 300 metres of Grandview Elementary.

Jessica, a parent, uses the dispensary, saying the rule isn’t needed. She notes the Canna Clinic is also in the neighbourhood.

“There aren’t stoned people outside the Canna Clinic,” says Jessica. “I have a daughter and we have a playground in our building and we live right behind there and it hasn’t been a problem.”

Shelley, however, feels the dispensaries attract a certain type of crowd.

“I’d rather see them see them moved farther away from schools,” says Shelley. “I do see a lot of activity in the school grounds themselves after hours, so I’m not happy about it.”

“I know there’s some medicinal [dispensaries],” says parent Evelyn, who supports the 300-metre ban. “But not all the people use it medicinally. It just attracts a weirder crowd.”

While split on the distance issue, all parents agreed some level of regulation would be a good thing for Vancouver’s dispensaries.
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by papapuff » Fri Apr 24, 2015 10:06 am

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by papapuff » Fri Apr 24, 2015 12:50 pm

theglobeandmail.com


‘Don’t do it’: Health minister warns against Vancouver’s dispensary plan

IAN BAILEY
SURREY, B.C. — The Globe and Mail
Published Friday, Apr. 24 2015

The federal health minister is urging Vancouver not to proceed with a proposal to regulate marijuana dispensaries, but she’s refusing to say what Ottawa will do if the city goes ahead with its plan.

During a news conference Friday, Rona Ambrose urged Mayor Gregor Robertson not to enact the proposed measures, which would create a new class of business licence for dispensaries while imposing hefty fees and restricting where they can be located.

"I would just say to him, 'Don't do it,'" said Ms. Ambrose, echoing a letter she sent to the mayor earlier this week. "My appeal to the mayor would be to think twice about this."

The number of marijuana dispensaries in Vancouver has ballooned to more than 80, up from about 20 just a couple of years ago. That rapid expansion has happened without much interference from the city or its police force.

The city has said it had no choice but to regulate dispensaries due to the federal government’s inaction on the issue.

Ms. Ambrose said Vancouver should instead shut down the dispensaries because they illegal under federal law. She also argued marijuana is not a medicine.

Ms. Ambrose said she was concerned about the message accessible dispensaries send to youth, though she twice refus‎ed to answer questions about whether the Conservative government would go to court to interfere with the city’s plans.

She suggested the issue is a matter for police, but she emphasized a concern about Vancouver's "mass commercialization and sale of marijuana in storefronts."

She also noted Health Canada is already regulating medical marijuana. Last year, the federal government overhaul the medical pot system, removing patients’ ability to grow their own pot and switching production to large commercial facilities.

Ms. Ambrose d‎rew a distinction between the Vancouver dispensaries and what she described as the strict, regulated regime of the federal system, which followed court decisions that said patients must have reliable access to medical marijuana.

She also declined to comment on legalization of marijuana in various U.S states.

"I'm not going to comment about what other jurisdictions are doing," she said.
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by papapuff » Fri Apr 24, 2015 1:01 pm

CTV News



Medical pot shops ‘send bad message’: Health minister


VIDEO

CTV Vancouver
Published Friday, April 24, 2015 12:45PM PDT

The war of words over medical pot dispensaries in Vancouver was further fueled as the federal health minister spoke out on Friday.

Rona Ambrose sent a letter to the city of Vancouver on Thursday, suggesting the city rethink plans to regulate medicinal pot shops around the city.

“As Health Minister of Canada what I have been focused on is the concern around the mass legalization, or in the case of Vancouver, the commercialization of the sale, mass commercialization and sale of marijuana in storefronts in other ways, that send a bad message to young people,” Ambrose said at a press conference in Surrey.

“Our ad campaign has been focused on informing parents about the health impacts of marijuana, and regardless of what happens in the future in Canada, marijuana will always, always be very harmful to the developing brain of young people."
City councillor Kerry Jang said the city is not backing down.

"That's exactly what the city bylaws are designed to prevent, they're actually designed to keep marijuana dispensaries away from schools and community centres and to keep them from clustering around, so clearly Minister Ambrose has missed the point."

In the letter addressed to Mayor Gregor Robertson, Ambrose wrote that she is “deeply concerned” about the upcoming proposal.

“Storefronts and dispensaries do not operate within a 'grey zone,' and the law is clear: they are illegal,” she wrote.

The proposed regulations would include a $30,000 licensing fee and require shops to be a minimum of 300 metres from schools, community centres and other dispensaries.

Jang said Vancouver City Council will still proceed with the vote next Tuesday. The letter from Ambrose does not threaten legal action against Vancouver.
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by papapuff » Fri Apr 24, 2015 1:48 pm

CKNW News Talk 980


Local Liberal MP sides with Vancouver on regulating pot dispensaries

Vancouver, BC, Canada / (CKNW AM) AM980
Laura Baziuk
April 24, 2015

A Vancouver Liberal MP says she supports the city regulating marijuana shops based on what she hears from her constituents.

The Harper government has chastised the city for trying to control an illegal industry.

Joyce Murray represents Vancouver Quadra.

“I hear from a lot of people in my neighbourhood who are concerned about the proliferation of unregulated pot shops and I totally understand their concerns.”

She says the city is trying to fill a gap that’s been created by the Conservatives’ inaction on marijuana, saying with so many dispensaries popping up, the “status quo” is not an option.
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by papapuff » Fri Apr 24, 2015 5:55 pm

Vancouver Sun



Health officials back Vancouver’s plan to license pot shops

Federal health minister tells city to shut them down

By Erin Ellis, Vancouver Sun April 24, 2015

VANCOUVER -- Senior health officials say a plan to license marijuana dispensaries — even though they are illegal — is a smart move.

"I think it fits in with the public health agenda in which we suggest that, on the evidence, the best way to address a psychoactive substance like cannabis is through regulation, controlled outlets, pricing and taxation," provincial health officer Dr. Perry Kendall said Friday in an interview.

The City of Vancouver announced this week it will charge marijuana shops $30,000 a year in fees if they meet proposed guidelines requiring them to be at least 300 metres from a school, community centre or similar outlet. They also won't be allowed to sell baked goods and candies containing cannabis because they may appeal to teenagers.

The city predicts the rules will close about 25 per cent of Vancouver's 80 dispensaries.

Dr. Patricia Daly, chief medical health officer for Vancouver Coastal Health, calls the plan "very sensible" because of its focus on children and teenagers.

"We're particularly concerned about use among youth whose brains are developing.

"How can we reduce the harms associated with marijuana use? The best way to do that is to apply a regulatory approach, which is exactly what the city is proposing," Daly said.

Federal Health Minister Rona Ambrose disagrees. She told reporters at an unrelated event in Surrey on Friday that Vancouver must "re-think'' its plans and shut down the stores.

While marijuana outlets have sprouted across Canada, the rapid increase in Vancouver is without precedent, growing from six shops to 80 in two years.

"The issue for me is a public-health issue. First of all, marijuana dispensaries are illegal,'' Ambrose said. "Marijuana is not a medicine, it is not approved as a medicine by Health Canada, nor has it gone through any of the typical rigorous clinical trials that are necessary for medicine to be approved.''

Ambrose wouldn't say what her government is prepared to do if Vancouver goes ahead.

"I would leave that to the police. But I would also say to you that this resolution hasn't passed council yet. They're thinking about it, they have a problem on their hands. A lot of people want to make a lot of money.''

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson said Friday the city will hold a public hearing as a common-sense approach to deal with marijuana facilities, noting there are 80 shops in the city.

"The proliferation exists because of the federal landscape," he said. "As a city we can't continue allowing these shops to be all over town.

"They're allowed to exist, but we can't let them operate in a vacuum. We want to be sure there are good solid guidelines here."

Both Daly and Kendall say the federal government has stumbled in its legislation on the issue. Banning the cultivation of pot by people with marijuana prescriptions in 2014 led to an explosion in the number of pot shops, which Vancouver police didn't deem dangerous enough to shut down. Ottawa had previously been forced by the courts to allow access to marijuana — usually for pain or nausea — for people with a doctor's prescription. Now marijuana activists say they can't always get the plant strains they need for their ailments and took the matter back to Federal Court in February.

"The federal government hasn't really provided a scheme whereby people who need access to medical marijuana can get it, which is why you have these dispensaries," Kendall said.

"It hasn't been a helpful regime. It's such a contrast to what's happened in Washington state where you've seen very tightly regulated access even to recreational marijuana. They're treating it much more like alcohol, which itself is a dangerous product."

Daly says Canada spends more than $1 billion a year enforcing a prohibition on recreational marijuana, yet it's still readily available, especially to youth.

"The federal health minister expressed concern about potential harm to the population," said Daly. "If that is their concern, the best way to reduce harms is to legalize marijuana, but strictly regulate it."

They suggest rules similar to those on alcohol and tobacco.

eellis@vancouversun.com

With files from The Canadian Press and Kelly Sinoski, Vancouver Sun
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