Ottawa bylaw officers are the latest authorities to take a swat at the pot shops popping up around town.
Two dispensaries have received notices of zoning violations for operating “retail stores” in industrial zones. City inspectors are also investigating the take-out window in a boarded-up pot shop to see if the operation violates the building code.
It adds another piece to the puzzle over what can — or should — be done about the illegal dispensaries. There are now 17 pot shops in town.
Police are investigating them, but have not raided any. They’ve leaned on pot-shop landlords, sending letters warning them about police action and possible seizure of properties. Several landlords, meanwhile, say it’s unfair to put the onus on them to get rid of tenants operating illegal businesses.
City bylaw officers have generally taken a hands-off approach. The dispensaries have not been issued business licences because there is no provision for illegal businesses. Even councillors who have called on the pot shops to be closed acknowledge it would be problematic for the city to create new bylaws to regulate them because that would legitimize their operations. However, over in the city zoning department, the dispensaries have been deemed to be “retail stores,” say councillors Keith Egli and Riley Brockington, who are both dealing with public complaints about dispensaries in their wards. That led to the zoning violation notices.