Article by Matthew Van Dongen, The Hamilton Spectator
The city is abandoning its handsoff approach to illegal marijuana dispensaries and forming a team to search for possible bylaw violations by the proliferating pot sellers.
Planning director Jason Thorne sent an update memo to city councillors Thursday announcing licensing and bylaw officials will team up to examine 15 known storefront pot sellers “to determine if there is any violation of municipal bylaws.”
The storefront sale of marijuana is illegal, but shops purporting to sell exclusively to medical patients with prescriptions started popping up across Canada after the courts struck down federal rules as unconstitutional more than a year ago.
A federal task force on marijuana legalization released dozens of recommendations in December that include allowing some form of storefront sales.
But for now, such retail outlets remain illegal, and Hamilton police started cracking down on storefront medical pot operations in earnest last year.
Examples of raided pot spots include Bright Moments on King Street East, Escarpment Wellness on King Street East, MMJ-Canada’s Urban Dispensary in Hess Village and Royal Farmacy on Main Street East.
Up until now, any complaints to city bylaw about the dispensaries have been redirected to police. But Thorne’s memo says city officials will now review known dispensary locations for possible bylaw breaches “in order to ensure public safety.”