Pot shop rules proposed in Victoria as marijuana businesses multiply

Proposed regulations for medical marijuana businesses in Victoria cover everything from distance from schools to the kinds of cannabis products that can be sold.

It's estimated there are now 30 medical marijuana businesses operating in the capital

The proposed City of Victoria regulations would affect some of the products currently sold at medical marijuana storefronts such as this Trees Dispensary location. (Megan Thomas/CBC)

The City of Victoria has come up with about a dozen restrictions it wants to place on the pot shops that now proliferate the capital.

The storefront businesses are still technically illegal, but Victoria is looking to follow Vancouver's lead to license and regulate the operations.

"In my opinion, the number of dispensaries popping up with no regulation is completely unacceptable," said Mayor Lisa Helps. "I think we need to take some steps to remedy that."

There are roughly 30 medical marijuana businesses operating in the capital, many of which have popped up within the past year. 

The proposed restrictions include a number of health and safety measures:

  • individuals under the age of 19 must not be on the premises
  • food products other than tinctures, capsules or edible oil must not be sold
  • consumption of products is not allowed on site 
  • health warning signs must be posted
  • signage and advertising must be discreet
  • specific security measures must be in place including: a security plan, minimum staffing requirements, video surveillance cameras, alarm systems, windows must not be blocked
  • odor control systems must be in place 
  • limits on location (at least 200 meters from schools and other storefront medical marijuana retailers) · limits on hours of operation (must be closed between 8 p.m. and 7 a.m.)
  • storefront medical marijuana retailers must not deliver or mail products to customers
  • no other business can be conducted on the premise of a medical marijuana retailer.
  • an annual licence fee for storefront medical marijuana retailers of between $4,000 and $5,000 (based upon an estimate of the costs required to administer this type of licence)

A public meeting will be held on February 22 at Victoria City Hall to gather public feedback on the proposed regulations.

Pot shop support

Some of the dozens of cannabis retailers in Victoria welcome the city's move to regulate, even if it could affect their business.

"We hope to be able to continue to run them all," said Alex Robb, a spokesperson for the chain Trees Dispensary.

Spokesperson Alex Robb says the Trees Dispensary chain supports regulation, but questions the restriction on operating other businesses alongside medical marijuana. (Megan Thomas/CBC)

"If the city says one or two of them are okay, but one of them has to leave, we are more than happy to try to move that dispensary to a different location." 

But the company looks forward to participating in public consultation on the proposed rules, Robb said, adding it is concerned about restrictions on the type of cannabis products that can be sold, and the inability to offer other services.

The company has plans to expand one of its locations in downtown Victoria to include other wellness services such as yoga and nutritional counselling.

"The aim is to make the cannabis dispensary not just a location like a liquor store  but to make a cannabis dispensary something that is contributing to the health of the local community," Robb said.