Article by Frances Bula, The Globe and Mail
Cities have the right to deny business licences to illegal marijuana dispensaries and to prohibit the cultivation or sale of marijuana through their zoning bylaws, a B.C. Supreme Court judge has ruled.
The case is the latest development in what has become a patchwork of inconsistent rules and legal skirmishes as cities grapple with changing laws and an aggressive new marijuana industry. While the sale of marijuana at storefronts, such as dispensaries, remains illegal, some cities such as Vancouver have moved to regulate them through business licences. Others, including Abbotsford, have remained determined to keep them outlawed.
The court rejected a challenge from Don Briere, a local marijuana entrepreneur with a chain of dispensaries throughout the Lower Mainland. Mr. Briere argued that the City of Abbotsford was violating the Constitution by refusing to permit him to operate – and in turn, he argued, restricting access to medical marijuana.
Justice Miriam Gropper ruled that, even though it is the federal government that regulates the use of drugs such as marijuana, that doesn’t mean that cities can’t have their own rules to regulate it.
That was gratifying news for Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun.