High Societies: Vancouver’s Multi-Million Retail Marijuana Market and the Non-Profit Societies Running It

Article by Dan Fumano, Vancouver Sun


Reefer retail is a growth industry in Vancouver, with annual revenues estimated in the hundreds of millions in Canada’s first major city to regulate dispensaries.

And, due to what a prominent cannabis lawyer calls a “peculiarity” of Vancouver’s dispensary regulations, millions of dollars of commerce flow through non-profit societies every year.

In Vancouver, where companies cannot apply for dispensary licences, most pot shops working their way through the city’s licensing process are incorporated as non-profit societies.

Applicants for licensing under Vancouver’s retail marijuana regulations, adopted in June 2015, must be either non-profit societies or personal business licences registered to individuals, said Vancouver’s chief licensing inspector Andreea Toma.

Kirk Tousaw, a lawyer who represents about 40 dispensaries in Canada, said the Vancouver approach, which seems to encourage societies while excluding companies, is “a peculiarity that has not been repeated in any other municipality that I’m aware of.”

The situation arose, Tousaw said, because the first handful of “compassion clubs” selling cannabis to patients in the 1990s, like the B.C. Compassion Club on Commercial Drive and the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club, were organized as non-profit societies with community service mandates.

Read full article here.

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