Victoria clamping down on illegal cannabiz

City’s injunction to close downtown dispensary may not be the last

Victoria is ramping up enforcement efforts to shut down cannabis dispensaries operating without the permission of the City.

Shops that have not had rezoning approved and are not licensed could be forced by a court injunction to close their doors, said City clerk Chris Coates. Rejected rezoning applicants are given 30 days to wrap up operations, he said.

In some situations they have closed up promptly. “In other instances, they haven’t,” Coates said. “That results in graduated enforcement.”

The News’ interactive cannabis dispensary map. See original story here for details.

The next step is issuing a fine for operating without a business license, or for conducting business contrary to zoning for the property. If they remain open the City can apply for an injunction.

“We don’t have immediate power to shut the business down,” Coates said. “The courts have to be used.”

Just last week the City was in court seeking an injunction to force closure of the Green Dragon Medicinal Society on Herald Street. The judgment was reserved, which means it could be weeks or months before a verdict is delivered.

When the News called the shop for comment, a spokesperson said the business petitioned the City and applied for a review of the case. Proximity to the Chinese Public School was one of the reasons given for declining the rezoning, but that point is being disputed by the operator.

Since Victoria’s Cannabis-Related Business Regulation Bylaw came into effect in October 2016, no new dispensaries have been allowed to apply for a rezoning or a business licence. Now, those that try to open up are swiftly shut down, Coates insisted.

“It doesn’t happen a lot,” he said. “Once our bylaw staff becomes aware of something like that, they are immediately enforcing.”

lauren.boothby@vicnews.com

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