Vancouver has recently listed its twelfth dispensary licence, issued to WestCoast Medicann Scoiety at 3178 Cambie St. Another 27 have development permits with the city, the final stage before a business licence.
The last medical marijuana relates use (mmru) business licence issued by the city was in August, to Karuna Health Foundation at 4510 Victoria Dr.
Vancouver has been slowly working their way through their licensing program since they began the process in 2015 and had given unlicensed dispensaries until the end of April of 2016 to close. 176 originally applied for a licence. The vast majority failed based on the city’s 300 m zoning regulations, and the city currently lists 60 locations operating without permission that are subject to enforcement.
Councillor Kerry Jang, the city's lead voice on its Medical Marijuana Related Use licensing program (MMRU), has said the program could take several years. He has also said he expects only about 15-20 dispensaries to ultimately get a business licence.
It is still unknown if even licensed dispensaries will ever become part of a legal federal and provincial framework for medical or recreational sales of cannabis if and when legalization comes into effect in Canada.
BC Premier John Horgan recently made some vague comments about dispensaries in an interview that touched on the province's plans for legalization, saying he felt the dispensary proliferation in Vancouver and Victoria was a “problem,” but that “market forces” could sort the issue out. Under the proposed Cannabis Act, provinces have control over managing distribution and, with municipalities, retail sales.
While Horgan says he hopes to cater to entrepreneurs, and that whatever system BC chooses will be in line with the federal government’s goals of tightly controlling and restricting access.
“We want to make sure that a distribution system is in place that benefits those who want to participate as entrepreneurs, but we need to regulate it and we’re going to do that in a variety of ways, starting with talking to people about how they want to proceed. And that means again, working with local councils.”
“In the City of Vancouver and City of Victoria, two that I know well, there’s been just an explosion of private dispensaries on almost every street corner in some cases. That’s not going to work. The market will figure some of that stuff out. But we want to make sure there's a regime in place that protects the public and also is compliant with where the federal government wants to go.”
When Vancouver initially passed their MMRU rules in 2015, they said they would revisit the rules after two years (although the city has not offered any updates yet). They have long emphasized that a business licence is not a guarantee of being part of a federally legal program, although the political expediency of denying that opportunity to those working their way through a system seems challenging.
The Medical Marijuana Related Use licensing (MMRU) program has three main stages of licensing: the Conditional Permit, the Development Permit and then finally, a Business License. Dispensaries pay a $30,00 a year fee to the city, while Compassion Clubs pay a $1,000 fee.
Under Vancouver’s MMRU rules, Compassion Clubs must be registered under the Society Act, must be a member of the Canadian Association of Medical Cannabis Dispensaries (CAMCD), must provide additional, non-cannabis related medical services such as Reiki, nutritional counselling, psychological, Chinese medicine, or massage, all via registered practitioners, and these services must be provided for at least 60% of the time that the Compassion Club is open for business.
Last October, the Vancouver Sun ran a story on WestCoast MediCann, inquiring into their status under the Society Act. Following this, the article says they were denied and ignored requests for Westcoast Medicann Society’s financial statements, and Post Media reporter obtained a Registrar’s Order from B.C. Registry Services in August of 2016, ordering Westcoast Medicann Society to provide the reporter copies of the society’s financial statements from 2010 to 2015. According to the article, the society told the reporter they had received the government’s order but would not provide financial information.
10 Business Licences (stage 3)
Wealth Shop Society – 104-4545 West 10th Ave
Aura Health Studio – MPN Society (Formerly MedPotNow) –1316 Kingsway
Urban Earth Med Society — 1605 Renfrew St
The Healing Centre — 6416 Main St
Scooter Health Society (Formerly EDEN) — 3441 Kingsway
WestCanna — 700 W Broadway
The Budda Barn — 2179 West 4th
THCC The Herb Co — 1193 Main St.
Eggs Canna — 208 E 16th Ave.
Karuna Health Foundation — 4510 Victoria Dr.
WestCoast MediCann — 3178 Cambie St.
MMRU - Medical Marijuana-Related Use Development Applications (stage 1)