Council Moves Forward With Regulation of Victoria Dispensaries

The City of Victoria has moved forward with new regulations on cannabis dispensaries, voting last night on a series of proposed requirements.

Mayor Lisa Helps said this is only the beginning of the city’s work, and that license applications from the shops will follow a series of public hearings.

The city is proposing that medical dispensaries be barred from having ATMs on in the store, no one under 19 being allowed inside and all shops closed between 8 pm and 7 am, among other conditions.

After the rules are approved in September, the rezoning process for dispensaries would begin, potentially seeing a number of existing shops move or shut down as they are within 200 m of a school or another dispensary.

While council will be able to make exceptions based on their discretion, Helps said she hopes the 200 m rule will be held to.

“We don’t have three liquor stores on every corner,” she said. “[Yet] if you stand on the corner, right now, of Quadra and Balmoral, you can literally look and count three dispensaries,” she said.

Shops will have 30 days to approve for rezoning and a license from the city after the regulations are approved, with each process costing a proposed $7,500 and $5,000, respectively.

Some councillors, like Charlayne Thornton-Joe, expressed concerns at the meeting that the proposed bylaws excluded consumption at dispensaries, pointing out that medical users may also be forbidden from smoking at home but still need a place to consume their medication.

“As we work toward safe consumption sites, that may be an opportunity to have smoking rooms … and I guess there’s some comfort in knowing that people can use cookies, tinctures or sprays,” Thornton-Joe said.

Helps said she expected shops to follow the process set in place by the city, and, if they didn’t, would face daily fines of $1,000 or court injunctions to close.