Article by Glenda Luymes, Vancouver Sun
Six months after cannabis became legal in Canada, dozens of dispensaries continue to operate without a provincial license in B.C. as both local governments and the province struggle to shut them down.
The robust illicit market, including “grey-market dispensaries,” were cited as the reason B.C. lags behind other Canadian provinces in legal cannabis retail sales in a recent report by Arcview Market Research.
Analyst Tom Adams wrote that legal retail outlets at the outset of legalization constitute “a drop in the proverbial bucket compared to the hundreds of ‘grey’ market unlicensed stores,” mostly in B.C. and Ontario.
The grey market will “hold back, to some degree, the legal market in that not all (illicit) operators will either get licensed or go away,” predicted Adams, managing director and principal analyst with Colorado-based BDS Analytics, which conducted the research in conjunction with California-based Arcview.
The City of Vancouver has identified 20 cannabis dispensaries still operating without provincial licenses, Kathryn Holm, the city’s chief license inspector, told Postmedia earlier this week.
Nine of the 20 are participating in a test case before the B.C. courts.
On Dec. 13, B.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson ordered the unlicensed shops to shut down, and he backed the City of Vancouver’s position that it has the authority to license and zone for the businesses.
Some of the dispensaries appealed that decision, Holm said, and “the city will await the outcome of the appeal before determining next steps.”
The city has filed or is preparing to take legal action against the 11 dispensaries that are not part of the appeal.