Public set to air views on medical marijuana dispensaries in Vancouver

Vancouver could become the first city in Canada to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries after the smoke clears on a public debate that starts tonight.

Almost 90 people have signed up to speak at a city hall hearing that begins at 6 p.m. and could drag on for multiple days.

The city is proposing new regulations to control the overgrowth of illegal pot shops, which have quadrupled from fewer than 20 to more than 80 over the past three years.

The regulations would include a new business licence category, a $30,000 fee and a requirement that stores be 300 metres away from schools, community centres and each other.

Selling marijuana over the counter is illegal in Canada — regardless of whether it’s medical or recreational — and the federal government has strongly warned against the plan.

Dispensary owners are split on the proposed regulations, with some complaining the hefty fee and location requirements will put them out of business, while others support the rules as a step toward legalization.

The Canadian Press