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Eleven Vancouver pot dispensaries get green light from city

The Province logo The Province 2015-10-27 BRIAN MORTON
VANCOUVER, BC: FEBRUARY 27 2013. Medical marijuana dispensary at 4170 Fraser Street called Medpot Now Dispensary. February 27 2013. Steve Bosch / PNG staff photo) [PNG Merlin Archive] © Steve Bosch Steve Bosch VANCOUVER, BC: FEBRUARY 27 2013. Medical marijuana dispensary at 4170 Fraser Street called Medpot Now Dispensary. February 27 2013. Steve Bosch / PNG staff photo) [PNG Merlin Archive]

Eleven marijuana dispensaries have been given the green light by the City of Vancouver to move on to the next stage in their applications process, although lawsuits are being considered by at least one of the failed applicants.

“We plan on pursuing (a lawsuit),” said Donald Briere, owner of nine pot shops in Vancouver. “I’ve been approached by other shops (to participate).

“One of my locations (on Victoria Drive) is okay. The other (eight locations) were deemed to be within the no-go zone. We basically have six months to find a new location to move to.”

Briere — who was convicted of several offences related to growing and selling marijuana and was listed in police files as a complainant alleging a Hells Angel threatened him over his plans to open a new Weeds Glass & Gifts store — was commenting on Vancouver’s announcement Monday that it continues to process and evaluate applications for medical marijuana-related businesses with Stage One now complete.

“After setting out new zoning and business licence regulations, the city received 176 applications before the application deadline on August 21, 2015,” the city said in a release. “Staff has now assessed all applications based on zoning regulations and continues to follow up with each applicant regarding zoning evaluation results and next steps. Applicants that meet zoning requirements will move on to Stages Two and Three, which consist of inspections and the city’s standard development permit and business licence processes.”

“To date, letters have been sent to 11 applications located in permitted zones which meet 300-metre distance requirements from sensitive uses (schools, recreation centres and other pot shops).”

The city also said letters have been sent to another 30 applications that meet zoning requirements, except for the minimum distancing from other pot shops.

“The applications in these “clusters” will be evaluated and scored based on criteria established in the bylaw. In each cluster, the operator with the best score can continue in the permits and licensing process at that location.”

It said that the rest of the 176 applications cannot continue in the permitting process, and have six months to secure other sites.

Briere said the 300-metre rule is too restrictive and needs to be modified.

The successful applicants’ names won’t be revealed until early November after signs have been posted at each site and notifications mailed to local addresses to allow for public input, city spokesman Jag Sandhu said.

Meanwhile, Dana Larsen, vice-president of the Canadian Association of Medical Cannabis Dispensaries and owner of two Vancouver pot shops, said both shops were rejected because they were too close to a school and a community centre.

“One of my spots on Thurlow is 290 metres from a school, so we’re hoping that the board of variance will look at the fact we’ve been there five years and let us stay, but there’s no guarantees,” added Larsen, who is also looking at finding a new location.

As to a lawsuit, Larsen said he probably won’t file a lawsuit because the chances of success are small.

“The irony for me is we’ve never had a problem with anybody, ever, and now that it’s going to be legalized we are going to have to shut down.”

bmorton@vancouversun.com

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