Marijuana dispensary operators have begun receiving letters warning them that the time has come for edibles to disappear from their stores.
“City policy is that edibles, except for oils, tinctures and capsules, will not be permitted to be sold,” states a document issued by the City of Vancouver’s planning and development services department. “Effective immediately, edibles cannot be sold in your business.”
The letter goes on to warn store operators that if an inspection occurs and edibles are found on the premises, the city will issue a verbal warning and photograph evidence of edibles as for sale. Furthermore, the business will not be deemed eligible for the city’s new class of marijuana business licence “until we are satisfied that the sale of edibles has ceased”.
The document also states that smoking will no longer be tolerated inside cannabis shops. This includes lounges such as the row of clubs that border Victory Square on West Hastings Street.
“Smoking is not allowed inside any commercial premise,” it reads. “By ‘smoking’, we mean dabbing, vaping, vaporizing and the use of e-cigarettes.”
If anybody is found to be smoking inside a dispensary, the store manager will be issued a ticket for $250. Similar to transgressions involving the sale of edibles, a smoking ticket can adversely impact an operator’s business-licence application.
Shops are also required to display “no smoking” signage.
The copy of the letter obtained by the Straight is dated July 22, 2015. An employee of Canna Clinics dispensary on Commercial Drive confirmed their stores had received copies of the letter on July 23.
The city’s issuing of the letter is the latest step in its implementation of a regulatory scheme adopted by Vancouver city council on June 24, 2015.
On that date, councillors voted to create a new licence category for marijuana-related businesses and to adopt a number of bylaws that dictate how cannabis storefronts should operate. Among the new rules, dispensaries must not stand within 300 metres of a school or community centre, minors are not allowed inside the stores, and shops must comply with all relevant building, zoning, licence, and development bylaws.
In addition to emphasizing the city’s bans on edible sales and indoor smoking, the letter details a three-step licence-application process that each dispensary is required to pass if it is to remain in business.
Step one is described as “preliminary” and is already underway. It involves a $100 application fee. By August 21, dispensary operators must submit a short form that includes basic details related to their store. The city describes this step as required to determine which dispensaries fail to meet location requirements that prohibit shops from standing within 300 metres of schools, community centres, and other dispensaries.
The city is emphasizing that dispensaries that are located within the 300-metre buffer areas should still submit stage-one applications, as that will ensure they are eligible for an initial batch of relocation evaluations.
Stage two is labeled “de-clustering” and involves a $504 inspection fee. It describes a “merit-based evaluation process” that will be used to determine which businesses within 300 metres of one another will have to move to another location.
Stage three is when applicants must demonstrate they are compliant with the city’s new bylaws for marijuana-related businesses and when operators must pay for the city’s new class of business licence. For the majority of dispensaries, that fee is $30,000. For a smaller number that meet requirements for “compassion clubs”, the fee is $1,000.
The city has scheduled two information sessions that dispensary operators have been invited to attend. Those are scheduled for July 30 and August 10.