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Marijuana dispensary regulations approved in Vancouver

06/24/2015 02:33 EDT | Updated 06/24/2016 05:59 EDT
Vancouver city council has voted to regulate and license the roughly 100 medical marijuana retailers in the city, making it the first city in Canada to do so.

The bylaw was supported by Mayor Gregor Robertson, the dominant Vision Vancouver councillors, and Green Party Coun. Adriane Carr. Opposed were the city's three Non-Partisan Association councillors.

Coun. Kerry Jang called the controversial bylaw "a common-sense approach to dealing with the explosion of medical marijuana shops in our city."

The bylaw will charge retail dealers a $30,000 licence fee — the city's highest permit cost — and prevent shops from operating within 300 metres of community centres, schools and other pot shops.

The city held four nights of public hearings on the proposed bylaws, with dozens of speakers for and against the new regulations.

"We're not regulating the product, we're simply regulating the business itself," said Jang.

The bylaw does not allow the sale of edible products like pot brownies, with the exception of edible oils, which would include tinctures and capsules.

Federal government opposed

Federal Health Minister Rona Ambrose opposed the bylaw, sending letters to Vancouver's mayor and city councillors telling them marijuana is illegal and the bylaw will increase marijuana use and addiction.

In city council Wednesday, Coun. Geoff Meggs called that position "backward and destructive." He repeated the city's position that it's taking action because the federal government has not.

"Wake up, you are completely out of touch with the realities on the ground," said Meggs, aiming his comments at Ambrose.

Meggs also called the remarks in public hearings from some from marijuana dispensary owners "tone deaf," and said that the city is acting because of evidence the retailers have not been good neighbours and have marketed pot sales toward children.

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