Squamish Council Passes Rules for City’s Dispensaries

The City of Squamish passed updates to their bylaws which will allow for medical cannabis dispensaries to operate in the city.

With around five of the shops already in business, city council has spent the last several months crafting policy to regulate the local industry.

The new rules prohibit ATMs to be located on the premises of the shops, with an attempt to appeal struck down after staff said they drafted the rule based on the best practices from Vancouver and other cities.

Don Fauchon, chairman of Cannabis Growers of Canada and co-operator of Grass Roots Medicinal dispensary, said he’s not happy about the city’s decision to restrict bank machines.

“They should be more open to this business, we have patients with terminal cancer that we’re treating and if we can’t have an ATM they’re going to make them walk to the 7/11, or some other store, to access cash,” Fauchon said. “I kept saying, okay, but what are your reasons? Best practices doesn’t cover it, what are your reasons? All I ever got was ‘Vancouver’s doing it, so we’re doing it.’”

The new bylaws also set a $5,000 fee for a dispensary business license. With the next highest fee for a business license in Squamish is capped at $2,000 for a warehouse using over 18,583 sq. metres of ground space.

“It’s extortion,” said Fauchon. “Most businesses pay about $200 a year for their licenses, why do they think they need to charge us this much? It’s just extortion, there’s no reason for it. They say it’s extra administrative costs, well I’d like to know what these extra administrative costs are.”

The city will issue $100 tickets for all bylaw infractions, which include improper odour control for the business, incorrect signage, operating after 8pm, or a spouse, parent or child of a license holder also having a business license to operate a dispensary.

The city’s rules stipulated that before successfully obtaining a business license, dispensaries must sign “an acknowledgment that a Licence is only a representation that the Marijuana Dispensary complies with local government bylaws and is not a representation that the Marijuana Dispensary complies with all other laws, including provincial and federal laws.”

Applicants for a business license must submit a security plan acceptable to the Chief Building Official, a criminal record information check for the applicant and every store manager and maintain security footage of the last 21 days.

Operators are also prohibited from permitting persons under 19 years to enter the dispensary unless accompanied by a guardian, can not operate after 8pm or before 8am and must cover all windows.

Fauchon said he’ll ultimately go along with any bylaws put in place in Squamish.

“We don’t have a choice. If we want to operate we’re going to have to have their business license or they’re going to come shut us down and I don’t want to do that,” Fauchon said. “Thinking about our patients we want to keep providing them with quality medicine.”