Ruling Allows Municipal Regulation of Dispensaries

A BC Supreme Court judge has ruled that local governments have the right to deny business licences to medical marijuana dispensaries, as well as the right to enact bylaws prohibiting the sale or cultivation of marijuana. This is the result of a recent court case between the City of Abbotsford and Mary Jane’s Glass & Gifts Ltd.

Originally, the City brought a petition forward requesting that Mary Jane’s Glass & Gifts Ltd. be declared in breach of the City’s business licence bylaw and zoning bylaw, and an order prohibiting the respondent from operating a marijuana dispensary within City limits. In response, the respondent challenged that the City’s bylaws were in violation of the Constitution in that they restricted access to medical marijuana.

Justice Miriam Gropper ruled that although the federal government regulates the use of marijuana, local governments may still enact rules to regulate the substance. In ruling on the issue of restricted access, Justice Gropper noted that federal legislation does not explicitly authorize access to medical marijuana through dispensaries. This has been cited as the first time a judge has rendered a decision on overlapping jurisdictions as it pertains to marijuana.

The judge’s decision allows local governments to continue to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries, while awaiting federal legislation regarding legalized marijuana.

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