Canadian judge: Cities can forbid illegal dispensaries

A British Columbia Supreme Court judge issued a blow to Canada’s most notable owner of illegal medical cannabis dispensaries, ruling that municipalities have the right to ban MMJ businesses.

Don Briere, who owns a chain of medical cannabis stores in the western Canadian province, filed a lawsuit alleging Abbotsford city officials violated Canada’s constitution by denying him a dispensary license.

Briere’s lawyer argued that local authorities don’t have authority to deny licenses to businesses because cannabis laws are decided by the federal government, The Globe and Mail reported.

But Justice Miriam Gropper ruled that federal government regulations don’t prevent municipalities from administering their own. She also said local governments can prohibit both unlicensed dispensaries and federally licensed cultivators.

There are nearly 40 licensed medical cannabis commercial growers in Canada that are required to distribute their product through the mail. But dozens of unlicensed dispensaries have sprung up over the years throughout Canada, mostly in British Columbia.

Some municipalities, like Vancouver, British Columbia, have tolerated or eventually licensed the dispensaries, but others, like Abbotsford, have taken a hard-line approach and shut down unlicensed MMJ businesses.