BC Supreme Court rules against Vancouver dispensaries

Dispensaries are ordered to pay bills of court costs and violation tickets.

Today, the B.C. Court of Appeal dealt another blow to Vancouver‘s unlicensed dispensaries. In December, the court ruled that the unlicensed dispensaries involved in the test case must shut down. That decision is being appealed and in the meantime, they also requested a stay on the order to close until their appeal has concluded.

That request for a stay was denied today, effectively ordering 9 Vancouver dispensaries to close immediately.

Here’s how it happened

The Supreme Court of B.C. ruled that sections of the City’s Licence Bylaw and Zoning and Developing Bylaw were constitutional, and intra vires – within its powers and authority.

The bylaws were found to not unduly restrict access to medical cannabis, nor did they infringe on noted sections of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The doctrines of interjurisdictional immunity and federal paramountcy, respectively, were found to not apply, as the conflicts between federal and provincial legislation do not significantly contradict, and the City’s regulatory powers were upheld.

Speaking with Dana Larsen, owner of The Medicinal Cannabis Dispensary, back in Sept 2018, as the case was about to appear before the court, he noted that the nearly 30 dispensaries involved in the test case had come together as they “all had similar and overlapping issues and that unifying [their] efforts meant [they] could team up and pool [their] resources to have a better chance of setting a solid precedent.”

Having lost the appeal, the dispensaries have been ordered to split the bill of costs equally amongst themselves, and pay their fines for bylaw violations.

What now?

The nine dispensaries included locations for Canna Clinic, Green Cross Society of BC, Karuna Health Foundation and Metta Lounge, Lotusland Cannabis Club, The Medicinal Cannabis Dispensary, and 4 WEEDS Glass and Gifts.

In a city that has only given out 6 licenses, the forced closing of these dispensaries will have a severe impact on the accessibility of cannabis in Vancouver, not to mention the dire circumstances it forces the dispensaries into.

Dispensary owners face either increasing enforcement, from being held in contempt of court to potential jail time, or basically being put out of business, because while the dispensaries are appealing the December Supreme Court ruling that ordered them to close, it could take years in the Court of Appeal before it’s resolved.

What good would it do for these dispensaries if they are forced to close down for years, losing their customer base and most likely their location (as it’s hard to keeping paying rent without any source of income), only to win their case eventually in the end?

The end result would basically be the same, and with this latest ruling, these dispensaries lose either way.

Is this how you envisioned cannabis legalization?

Let us know in the comments below!

Featured image courtesy of The National Post.