05/08/2015 10:18 EDT | Updated 05/08/2016 05:59 EDT

Marijuana dispensaries could be licensed in Victoria

Victoria City Council has rejected a staff report calling for a crackdown on marijuana shops flouting business licence rules, and has opted to follow Vancouver's model instead.

In a report to council, Victoria's legal staff said only seven of the city's 18 medical marijuana shops have business licences and there had been an increase in public complaints — so they recommended the city enforce bylaws.

But that's not the option council chose. Instead all but one councillor supported a motion to ask staff to come back with new regulations, such as the ones Vancouver is now looking at, said Coun. Ben Isitt.

Recently city staff in Vancouver tabled a report recommending the city licence and regulate shops selling marijuana, but the federal government has opposed the measures, saying the shops are essentially illegal.

Victoria's councillors are asking staff to draw up draft rules that would regulate the locations, appearance and business licences for marijuana dispensaries, despite federal laws prohibiting face-to-face medical marijuana sales.

It's not clear when the proposed regulations will be ready, but the public will get a say at a town hall meeting before anything is passed into law, said Isitt.

"We realize down the road this may entail discussions with the federal government, but we think public opinion supports a regulatory approach," said Isitt.