Since September, more than two dozen “illegal” dispensaries have been fighting the City of Vancouver for their very existence in BC Supreme Court. The decision came in today, and it's not good.

Vancouver Dispensaries lose fight to stay open in BC Supreme Court

Since September, more than two dozen “illegal” dispensaries have been fighting the City of Vancouver for their very existence in BC Supreme Court.

Today, Dec. 13, the judge’s decision came down, and it was a huge blow to the dispensaries,  as Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson ruled in favour of the City of Vancouver, effectively leaving the dispensaries with a very difficult decision- close down, or else.

The test case involved many well-known and high profile dispensaries such as WEEDS Glass and Gifts, Cannabis Culture, Karuna Health Foundation, and The Medicinal Cannabis Dispensary.

Kaye Krishna, Vancouver’s general manager of development, buildings and licensing, said in a release:

“This decision reaffirms the city’s authority over land use and our municipal business licensing for cannabis retail, and confirms the regulatory regime introduced in 2015 was well within the city’s jurisdiction to establish.

It also signals that any cannabis retail store operating outside city regulations can and will be enforced against using all the tools at the city’s disposal to the fullest extent moving forward.

What this means for dispensaries in the future

This is a precedent-setting decision that does not bode well for any dispensary planning on fighting municipal injunctions in the future because this particular case was what is known as a “test case”, where the dozens of dispensaries involved pooled their money and resources together while agreeing to abide by whatever decision the judge handed down.

The participating dispensaries were granted a temporary reprieve from the injunctions pending the outcome of the case, and now that they’ve lost, any of the dispensaries that decide to stay open from today onward could be subject to fines, raids, and even jail time.

According to The Voice, “to date the City has issued 3,713 tickets totaling close to $3 million against those operating outside the regulations”, and you can expect that number to increase with the City’s victory.

The Cannabis Community Reacts

Many, such as Canopy Growth Corp. advisor Kirk Tousaw were understandably disappointed with the ruling.

Cannabis activist Jodi Emery responded by retweeting studies that have shown that access to cannabis has been shown to reduce opioid deaths and that by stepping up enforcement against unlicensed dispensaries, the City of Vancouver is putting lives at risk.

But Dana Larsen, the owner of The Medicinal Cannabis Dispensary, had a much more optimistic view on the entire situation.


Featured image courtesy of Victoria Buzz.


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