By-The-Book Bud: Licensing a Dispensary in Victoria, B.C.

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By-the-book bud: licensing a dispensary From red tape to ribbon-cutting, here’s what it’s like getting zoned and licensed for cannabis retail in Victoria, B.C.

In September of 2016 the municipal government in British Columbia’s capital city began accepting the first applications from local businesses to be officially rezoned and licensed as medical cannabis dispensaries under the auspices of the city’s then-newly passed Bylaw 16-061. This Spring the City of Victoria approved its first dispensary rezoning application and issued its first license—Lift News interviewed representatives of the two dispensaries who were first to receive approval.

Trees Dispensary made local history last April as the first cannabis retailer ever to receive official endorsement from the municipal government, in the form of zoning approval for their location on the 500 block of Yates Street.

“It’s been a lot of hard work,” offered Trees’ general manager, Alex Robb, “and quite time consuming, but validating of the political process.”

Robb elaborated, adding that he was particularly impressed with Victoria city council’s community engagement when initially developing the framework for the municipal licensing, which included multiple public surveys, Town Hall meetings, and an open and inclusive attitude toward all stakeholders. This, he highlighted, was a welcome contrast to the top-down approach taken by Vancouver’s city council when pioneering Canada’s first such dispensary licensing bylaw in 2015.

Just two weeks after the approval for Trees’ zoning application, the City of Victoria took the next step forward by issuing its first official dispensary business license to Farmacy for their Scott Street location.

A representative of Farmacy echoed the overall positive experience with the application process, praising its straight-forward nature. “Things went smoothly,” he added, “the city staff were great to work with—receptive and helpful.”

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