Canadian Mayors Seek Federal Help With Illegal Dispensaries

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In Canada, the mayors of two of Vancouver Island’s biggest cities are seeking guidance from the federal government on how to deal with illegal medical cannabis dispensaries and how to prepare for recreational marijuana legalization.

Until now, most of Canada’s illegal dispensaries have been in Vancouver, where police have focused on heavier drugs and local politicians have by-laws that regulate the city’s cannabis trade.

But dispensaries have started to pop up in nearby Victoria and Nanaimo, and observers expect more illegal dispensaries to open across Canada, according to the Globe and Mail.

On Thursday, the Victoria City Council will debate whether to move ahead with proposed cannabis regulations or wait for guidance from the country’s health and justice ministries. The cannabis by-law proposal permits marijuana shops but requires them to be at least 200 meters from schools or other marijuana stores.

The proposal also prohibits edibles and recommends that all dispensaries pay a business license fee of $4,000 to $5,000 Canadian dollars ($3,000 to $3,750 U.S. dollars) to cover enforcement. Vancouver licenses cost about CAD $30,000 ($22,500).

In Nanaimo, the local Royal Canadian Mounted Police has threatened to raid 10 dispensaries if they do not close by the end of this week.

In September, Canadian health officials warned illegal dispensaries that Mounties would be instructed to shut them down.