Victoria adopts ‘first-come, first-served’ licensing regs for pot shops

The City of Victoria is adopting new licensing provisions to try and control the B.C. capital’s booming craft cannabis scene, which currently has nearly 40 businesses in operation.

The first of two zoning applications for cannabis dispensaries in the 500-block of Yates Street is expected to come before city councillors for consideration this week, with one already up and running and the other a proposed new one.

Under the city’s revised rezoning policies, storefront cannabis retailers are required to be at least 200 metres apart, which basically means there can only be one.

“In the instance where there are two within proximity, I think that’s the fair way to do it,” Mayor Lisa Helps told the Victoria Times Colonist. “These two are within, basically, steps of each other. One got their application in first so we’ll look at that one first and, if that goes through, then I think the other one will be more difficult.”

Council received an application from Trees Dispensary (546 Yates St.) last October and another for Pure Releaf (510-512 Yates St.) a few weeks later.

Trees has been rooted on Yates Street since December 2015.

The city policy states: “A storefront cannabis retailer should be at least 200 metres (in a straight line from closest lot line to closest lot line) from another lot where a storefront cannabis retailer is permitted, whether or not a storefront cannabis retailer is active or not. A reduced distance may be warranted in locations such as a large urban village, town centre or downtown.”

Under the new process, a business licenses won’t be given until a rezoning has been approved.

Other licensing requirements for cannabis storefronts include prohibiting consumption on the premises or allowing anyone under 19, only being open between 7 am to 8 pm, having a maximum of two display signs with no images on them, and meet strict security and ventilation requirements.

Meanwhile, the neighbouring city of Langford is making it as difficult as possible for dispensaries to operate and has filed a civil injunction against Green Tree Medical Dispensary, which re-opened for business after it was shut down by police last month.