How Are Dispensaries Treated Differently Across Canada?

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How are dispensaries treated differently across Canada? A city-by-city breakdown of current regional attitudes toward dispensaries in the various cities that have them

A breakdown of recent municipal activity around dispensaries across Canada. While Vancouver and Victoria are the most well-known for their pro-active cannabis policy as it relates to retail stores and licensing, many other cities across Canada continue to wrangle with the questions of how to manage dispensaries currently and how to manage retail cannabis sales once the Cannabis Act is passed.


Victoria, BC

Council recently passed a motion to increase the distance required between dispensaries from 200m to 400m, but left in the exemption possible in more developed areas on a case-by-case basis.

4 dispensaries have received zoning approval, 6 more will go to public hearing, and another 23 are still working their way through the process.

8 tickets have been issued for allowing consumption on-site, but this is also something Council left open for possible exemption. 15-24 fines have been levied for operating without a license.

Vancouver, BC

As of time of writing, Vancouver has 27 dispensaries with a development permit, and another 10 that have received a license. An unknown number are still working through the process, along with some who are scheduled to appear before the Board of Variance for a second time.

Penticton, BC

City council had voted last year to allow cannabis dispensaries operating in the city to apply for 6-month temporary use permits. Two of the city’s three dispensaries received these permits, and the third (an establishment with a long-time history of problems before it became a dispensary) was denied. On Tuesday of this week, council cited costs related to an injunction filed against this third establishment, and costs related to that party’s counter-suit as reasons for not renewing the permits. Two councillors went on record as opposed.

Toronto, ON

In May, 2016, Toronto Police raided 43 dispensaries and laid 90 charges. As of July 6, 2017, only 23 of those charges still stood, and there have been approximately another 150 raids, which continue. The number of dispensaries in Toronto still hovers around 50.

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