Vancouver Just Issued Its First Weed Dispensary Business Licence

It's official.

May 17 2016, 10:22pm

Photo via Flickr user tanjila ahmed

A Vancouver weed dispensary has become one of the first in the country to receive a business licence, which was issued by the municipal government this week.

The Wealth Shop, set to open in the Point Grey neighbourhood, has met all the city's requirements to operate as an above board business in Vancouver and was given its business licence Monday.

Speaking to the Vancouver Courier, chief licensing inspector Andreea Toma said the news affirms the city's commitment to regulating dispensaries. She said The Wealth Shop owners have signed a good neighbour agreement that indicates they're responsible for abiding by the city's standards.

"If anything that they do doesn't meet our current regulations, we will bring them back in and have a chat with them. The good neighbour agreement signed yesterday clearly indicated that, and they were all willing to sign it," Toma said.

The Wealth Shop, which will sell dried cannabis, extracts, and tinctures, describes itself online as the "first medicinal dispensary in Vancouver to partner with a wide range of health and wellness experts." Those experts include naturopaths, nutritionists, and fitness trainers, the store claims.

"What we're really excited for is to be able to provide care and wellness to those who need it," said one of shop's founders, who, somewhat ironically, didn't want to be named because of concerns about the flux state of the industry. He told VICE the store is committed to playing by the city's rules.

Last summer, Vancouver approved regulations requiring dispensaries to pay $30,000 for business licences (with the exception of compassion clubs), and to be located at least 300 metres from schools and community centres. It's the first city in Canada to come up with a regulating scheme, prompted by the influx of around 200 dispensaries.

Of 176 Vancouver dispensaries that applied for a licence, only a dozen or so are expected to get full approval. In the past few weeks, bylaw officers have been issuing fines to those pot shops that didn't make the cut but haven't yet closed their doors. Around 28 have reportedly shut down.

Pot activist Jodie Emery told VICE the city's rules are overbearing and that it could expect to be on the receiving end of legal action from dispensary owners.

Last week, Toronto Mayor John Tory said he'd like Toronto to consider following in Vancouver's footsteps. He's written a letter to the city's licensing committee asking them to report back on how best to proceed.

Correction: A previous version of this article said Vancouver issued the country's first dispensary business licence. In fact, Kimberley, BC issued the first one earlier this year.

Follow Manisha Krishnan on Twitter.

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