British Columbia

Victoria scores legal victory in closing unauthorized pot shops

Green Dragon Medicinal Society in Victoria challenged the decision by Victoria city council to reject its application for rezoning.

Court upholds city's decision to not rezone Green Dragon Medicinal Society

Green Dragon Medicinal Society in downtown Victoria announced it would close its doors following a Jan. 29 court ruling that upheld city council's decision to turn down a rezoning application that would allow the shop to sell marijuana. (Google Maps)

The City of Victoria is marking a legal victory in its efforts to regulate the locations of cannabis stores and shut down ones that ignore its rules. 

On Friday the B.C. Supreme Court ruled against the Green Dragon Medicinal Society's challenge of a city council decision to reject the store's rezoning application.

Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson also granted the city an injunction ordering Green Dragon to shut its doors. 

"This is the first injunction granted to the city ordering the closure of an unauthorized cannabis retailer," the City of Victoria said in a news release.

It added that the city is proceeding with court actions against other unlicensed pot shops. 

Victoria's regulations for licensing marijuana retailers, introduced last year, requires rezoning as a first step toward licensing.

The city concluded the store, located on the edge of Victoria's Chinatown, was too close to a school.

A Facebook post on the Green Dragon Medicinal Society page said the store is "closed for good," confirmed by city bylaw inspectors on Monday.

The court ruling and injunction is a victory in an ongoing effort by city officials to shut down pot shops that continue to flout the Storefront Cannabis Retailer Rezoning Policy.

Nine cannabis retailers continue to operate on property that hasn't applied for rezoning or has already been turned down, according to the City of Victoria, with more than $150,000 in outstanding fines for violations of the policy. 

Earlier this month Mayor Lisa Helps said the city is considering legal action against landlords who provide space to cannabis retailers operating even after being rejected for rezoning. 

With Files from Emily Brass