British Columbia

Victoria ready to crack down on non-compliant pot shops

Victoria pot shop owners also report receiving letters from Island Health ordering them to stop selling cannabis in edible form.

City says 16 pot shops have not applied for necessary zoning or licences required under new rules

The city says there are still 16 pot shops in the city that have not applied for the necessary zoning and licensing to operate in Victoria. (Megan Thomas/CBC)

The City of Victoria is preparing to launch legal action against pot shops that aren't following municipal rules.

Regulations for pot shops went into effect in the fall of 2016 and according to city clerk Chris Coates, owners of most of those stores have applied for the necessary business licences and zoning.

However, there are still 16 which have not.

"As long as people are moving in the right direction, then the city isn't taking action," Coates told All Points West guest host Megan Thomas. "It's those that aren't that are going to have the nudge to move that forward or have us consider taking further action against them."

Coastes says after consultation with pot shops and before regulations were rolled out, it was hoped there would be a higher degree of compliance.

He says the next steps will be for city staff to make contact with the owners of the 16 stores in question and advise them to get into the rezoning and licensing process "in short order."

He says if they refuse to do so, the city could begin seeking court injunctions to shut them down.

Island Health enforcing edibles ban

Island Health Authority is also showing interest in Victoria's pot shops — over the issue of edibles.

Victoria's regulations have so far not restricted the sale of edibles, but the health authority is seemingly getting ready to enforce such a ban.

James Whitehead, who runs a Victoria dispensary, received a letter from Island Health saying he must stop selling edible products like cookies and chocolate bars.

"Although we are complying with the ban and we are happy to do so, this is going to negatively impact many people that rely on edibles as their method of ingestion," he said.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Perry Kendall sat on the national task force examining marijuana legalization and says restricting the sale of edibles is in line with its recommendations.

Brandon Wright, who owns a pot shop that sells edibles, says his operation is supported by legal precedent.

"For us this is a bit of an outrage," he said. "This is a battle we've already fought and won at the Supreme Court level."

Wright says the marijuana activist and baker Owen Smith's Supreme Court case in 2015 should have put the issue of access to edibles and derivatives to rest.

With files from Elizabeth McArthur and CBC Radio One's All Points West

To hear the interview with Chris Coates, click the audio labelled: Victoria ready to crack down on non-compliant pot shops