Crack down on marijuana businesses, Victoria staff say

While Vancouver is looking at regulating the city's booming marijuana dispensary business, Victoria is considering a crackdown on those flouting its bylaws.

Report says majority of 18 Victoria pot stores operating without valid business licenses

A report going to Victoria council on Thursday says the number of marijuana-related shops in B.C.'s capital has jumped from four to 18 in the past year, and the majority are operating without a valid business license. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

While Vancouver is looking at regulating the city's booming marijuana dispensary business, Victoria is considering a crackdown on those flouting its bylaws. 

City staff are urging council to direct them to step up enforcement of existing bylaws and business license rules, meaning that marijuana-related businesses that won't comply could be shut down.

A report going to council on Thursday says the number of marijuana-related shops in B.C.'s capital has jumped from four to 18 in the past year, and the majority are operating without a valid business license.

Victoria staff aren't sure how many of the storefront shops are breaking federal laws by actually selling pot, but only seven have business licenses to sell paraphernalia or offer advice and another four are operating even though their license applications were rejected.

Mayor Lisa Helps says she wants to see the city's rules enforced but she also says with so many cities facing the same issues, she wants Ottawa to work with local governments on a different approach.

"If you need antibiotics you go to London Drugs and you get your prescription filled. Why are we treating marijuana differently?" Helps says. 

Councillor Ben Isitt says he would rather see the city follow Vancouver's lead.

"I think there could be a rationale for targeted enforcement," he said. 

"We have seen more than a dozen establishments proliferate, including in residential neighbourhoods, but we also have some longstanding medical marijuana dispensaries that I think have proven themselves to be responsible business operators."

With files from Tamara Baluja

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