Article by Mike Hager, The Globe and Mail
Vancouver’s approach to regulating illegal marijuana dispensaries is working, says the councillor who helped develop Canada’s first municipal pot licensing regime, even if almost half of the stores continue to operate outside the bylaw.
Councillor Kerry Jang, point person for the governing Vision Vancouver party on the marijuana file, said that regardless of how long it takes to shut down these rogue shops, the city’s regulatory program – not police raids – is paying off. The strategy is meeting the city’s public-health goals of stamping out sales to minors and cutting down on the armed robberies now plaguing Toronto’s illegal dispensary sector.
“To everyone who tries to count the pennies, I say, ‘Well, did we achieve what we wanted to do?’” Mr. Jang said. “We are in the process of achieving [all those public-health goals] very successfully compared to other jurisdictions.
“To me that’s what the people of Vancouver wanted.”
Fifty-one shops are flouting the bylaw and remain open, according to an official update provided Tuesday. All of those are subject to daily fines. However, it could still be months before a B.C. Provincial Court judge decides whether to grant injunctions that the city has filed against 27 of the worst offenders.
On the plus side, eight shops are operating with a special business licence, 47 applicants are in the process of trying to acquire this approval and 38 have now shuttered their doors.