Renegade dispensaries a challenge for new Vancouver regulations

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Illegal marijuana dispensaries in Vancouver, British Columbia, continue to defy the city’s medical cannabis licensing and regulations process by staying open despite being ordered to close.

More than 50 illegal cannabis businesses still operate even after Vancouver officials issued 854 tickets to owners who refuse to close their shops, the Vancouver Courier reported. Some dispensaries have been issued multiple tickets, which cost $250 apiece. According to the report, operators have paid 205 tickets.

In addition, the city has filed 27 court injunctions aimed at shuttering some of the 54 unlicensed cannabis dispensaries, which operate without a city license.

Some dispensary owners have vowed to go to court to fight the closures and penalties.

Thirty-four stores, meanwhile, have complied with the orders and closed or discontinued selling cannabis, the Courier reported.

Although dispensaries are illegal in Canada under federal law, they operate in Vancouver and a small number of other municipalities where local police look the other way as long as the businesses don’t break other laws, such as selling to minors.

After Vancouver lawmakers voted in June 2015 to regulate and license MMJ retailers, 176 dispensary license applications were submitted.

Vancouver has given out eight licenses and is considering four applications, the Courier reported. The city has distributed 21 development permits, one of the final steps in obtaining a license, and is reviewing 14 development permit applications.