Vancouver Boosts Fines for Pot shops but Defiant Retailers Still Selling

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A steady surge in illegal pot shops has prompted many cities to turn to law enforcement to try and clamp down.

In Toronto and Ottawa, police tried co-ordinated raids to crack down on illegal pot shops. In Montreal, police recently raided six marijuana storefronts — the day after they opened.

But Vancouver’s latest approach is different from many other cities, with local officials turning to zoning rules, licence fees and hefty fines to try and control the marijuana boom.

Earlier this year, Vancouver became the first city in Canada to draft a set of bylaws that would regulate pot shops in the absence of federal laws, which are expected to be tabled next year.

But the rules seeking to limit the city’s growth of medical marijuana businesses, brought in on June 24, have so far had limited success. The city recently voted to quadruple fines, hoping the boost would give its regulations more teeth.

Long-time marijuana advocate Dana Larsen, who runs two unlicensed marijuana businesses in Vancouver, says “we haven’t paid any of our fines yet.”

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