Canada: Vancouver Approves New Cannabis Shop Designation, In Advance Of Federal Legalization

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The city of Vancouver will change its current bylaw wording around marijuana businesses in anticipation of federal legalization expected this fall.

City council approved a zoning and development bylaw amendment this week that replaces the current designation of “medical marijuana related use” with the new designation of “cannabis store”, effective Oct. 17, 2018.

The federal government has said marijuana for recreational use will be legalized beginning on that date.

Cannabis shop operators will still need to apply for a development permit and business license through the city, as well as a business license through the province. The shops will only be permitted to sell marijuana acquired from a federally licensed producer and distributed through the province.

The requirements for cannabis businesses seeking city approval remain the same as the previous definition. Future retail cannabis shops – as well as all currently licensed medical marijuana shops and compassion clubs – are only permitted to operate in commercial zones and must be at least 300 metres away from schools, community centres, neighbourhood houses, youth facilities and other cannabis-related businesses.

To date, the city has issued 53 injunctions against illegal dispensaries – those that are not licensed or that do not comply with the city’s regulations. A test case has been set for a three-week hearing, beginning on Sept. 4 in B.C. Supreme Court.