Cities to follow Vancouver on pot: councillor

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OTTAWA – A Vancouver city councillor believes other Canadian cities will be forced to follow his city’s lead to regulate medicinal marijuana dispensaries as result of changes imposed by the federal Conservative government.

Kerry Jang says he has heard from other municipalities, including Victoria, that are interested in using or adapting Vancouver’s new bylaws to manage a recent spike in businesses selling medicinal pot.

The new rules require operators pay a $30,000 licensing fee and locate their businesses at least 300 metres away from schools, community centres and each other. There are roughly 100 locations in the city right now.

Jang says Ottawa’s mishandling of the medical marijuana file has fuelled the growth of dispensaries across the country. He says Ottawa is placing blame instead of working with the city to address the issue.

Health Minister Rona Ambrose has expressed disappointment in Vancouver’s decision to regulate dispensaries, saying it’s the law that medicinal marijuana be distributed in a controlled fashion that protects public health and safety.

Federal NDP health critic Murray Rankin, who represents Victoria, says the Conservatives have created “chaos” on the medical marijuana issue.