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Vancouver Licenses its First Medical Cannabis Dispensary

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The Wealth Shop will be the first “legal” marijuana dispensary to open under Vancouver, British Columbia’s new municipal bylaws regulating the sector, according to the Globe and Mail report.

Medical marijuana is permitted under Canadian law but it only allows about 24 industrial-scale grows. Licensed growers are allowed to sell dried marijuana and bottles of oil through the mail but dispensaries and “compassion clubs” operate outside of the law.

Vancouver is the first province to put forth a set of bylaws licensing dispensaries — there were as many as 100 operating when the city council began drafting the bylaws last spring.

Under the new rules, for-profit dispensaries require an annual $30,000 licensing fee paid to the city. Compassion clubs, which are run by a non-profit and offer additional health services such as acupuncture, require a $1,000 annual licensing fee. The shops will continue to operate outside of Canadian federal law — which is likely to change next spring as lawmakers will consider legalizing cannabis for recreational use.

The province is expected to approve two other shops imminently, while 12 others have made it to the second of three licensing stages. Officials shut down 30 shops for operating without licenses and 61 others remain subject to enforcement under the new rules. In all, 139 shops were issued $250 tickets.

Malik Sayadi, a hiring representative for The Wealth Shop, said he and his partners decided to wait for the licensing process and gain support from the community rather than open up without approval.

“Instead of trying to become the first ones there, we just went through all the proper procedures and worked closely with everybody that wanted us to work with them,” he said.