First three locations approved for cannabis retail business licence

January 4 2019 Customers can now legally purchase cannabis in Vancouver

Marijuana plants

The City of Vancouver has issued its first three business licences to retail cannabis outlets following the Province issuing a provincial licence to one operator last week and two more this week.

Issuance of a municipal business licence is the final requirement that operators must satisfy to conduct business legally in Vancouver.

All interested cannabis retail operators were able to apply for a provincial cannabis retail store licence in August 2018 when the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch launched their online portal for applications.

The licensed locations are:

  • Evergreen Cannabis Society - 2868 West 4th Avenue
  • City Cannabis Co. - 610 Robson Street
  • City Cannabis Co. - 7289 Fraser Street

Residents and tourists can now legally purchase cannabis products supplied to these three locations by the Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB), B.C.'s wholesale distributor of non-medical cannabis.

Requirements to operate

All cannabis retail outlets in Vancouver require a municipal development permit, provincial licence and municipal business licence to operate.

All operators applying for cannabis retail approval in Vancouver have been notified and are fully aware of these requirements. The City is doing everything possible to coordinate with the Province and the operators to complete these steps quickly.

The Province continues to refer applications to the City for a recommendation. The City reviews those applications to determine whether to issue a recommendation. A recommendation from the City does not guarantee that the provincial licence will be granted. To date, the City has issued five recommendations to the Province of which three locations are now fully licensed and allowed to operate.

There are 56 locations where the City has issued land use approval (development permit) to operate a cannabis retail outlet. These locations can be found on our website at vancouver.ca/cannabis. The City has communicated the requirement for these 56 operations to come into full compliance with Provincial and City requirements (i.e. maintaining a valid municipal development permit, obtaining a Provincial licence, and updating/obtaining a municipal business licence). If they have not applied for a Provincial licence, they are subject to provincial and municipal enforcement.

Any location operating without City land use approval is subject to enforcement.

Enforcement next steps

In May 2016, the City filed its first set of injunctions against businesses that remained open and operating outside City regulations after the April 29, 2016 deadline to shut down.

In total, the City applied for 53 injunctions against illegal dispensaries, the majority of which agreed to a test case that was heard in September 2018 before the BC Supreme Court. Some of the operators closed prior to the case being heard in court.

On December 13, 2018, the BC Supreme Court ordered the remaining illegal marijuana dispensaries participating in the suit to shut down or face court ordered fines, jail time, or both.

In addition to the 53 initially included in the above court case, the City has since identified approximately 20 additional retail shops that are operating without development permits (land use approval). The City has filed or is preparing to file injunction applications in respect to these operators as well.

Should there be non-compliance with the Court order, it is open to the City to commence contempt of court proceedings to obtain compliance with the Court's order.

The City will continue to work with the non-compliant operators to ensure timely compliance with the Court Order.