Canadian MMJ Crackdown On the Way?

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Medical marijuana businesses in Vancouver, British Columbia, may soon be in the city’s crosshairs.

The city council has “decided to step in” with a new ordinance that will boost licensing fees and crack down on zoning for cannabis businesses in light of a federal prohibition of MMJ dispensaries, City Manager Penny Ballem told The Canadian Press.

Despite their illegal status, more than 80 dispensaries have cropped up in just the last two years in Vancouver, according to the report, leading city officials to consider stricter zoning and business license rules. A draft proposal will be presented to the council and the mayor next week.

But in a strange twist of fate, the proposal may be dead before it gets any kind of vote. Canadian Health Minister Rona Ambrose “is warning Vancouver’s mayor not to regulate the city’s illegal medical marijuana dispensaries,” according to The Globe and Mail.

Ambrose apparently issued the warning to the mayor of Vancouver in a letter just a day after hearing about the city’s plan for new MMJ regulations.

The city’s proposal includes a $30,000 licensing fee, along with a requirement that dispensaries be at least 300 meters (just under 1,000 feet) from schools, community centers and other cannabis businesses. The zoning requirement alone will likely force a number of shops to either relocate or close down, Ballem predicted.

And the licensing fee would much higher than the maximum $12,000 fee that businesses in other industries are required to pay.

If the rules are formally approved by the council and mayor, dispensaries will have 30 days to file an application with the city.

The new rules were inspired at least in part by similar regulations in place in Washington State and Colorado, according to the report.