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Vancouver mayor and police chief in no rush to shut down unlicensed dispensaries

A cannabis-related criminal past won't necessarily disqualify someone from working at one of the soon-to-be open recreational pot shops across the country, but former dispensary workers' knowledge and passion can be seen as both an asset and a risk, hiring managers say. A police officer stands outside the Cannabis Culture shop during a police raid, in Vancouver, B.C., on Thursday March 9, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Vancouver’s new mayor is in no rush to crack down on Vancouver’s unlicensed dispensaries, now that recreational marijuana is legal nation-wide.

Kennedy Stewart expects those retailers to shut down shop on their own and says he wants to work with other levels of government to weed out retailers not playing by new federal rules. Thought, he says, he does keep in mind how many customers may not have access to products they need for health reasons.

“Non-licensed facilities are starting to close now as people apply for the licenses,” Kennedy says. “There is some confusion as to how people access those substances that they need for medicinal purposes. That’ll be something the province will address.”

Police Chief Adam Palmer, who is also president of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, adds he’s in no rush to shut down rogue operators because he, too, is expecting the illegal supply to dry up as more government-approved products become available.

“We’re hoping that the legal supply will start increasing and as the legal supply increases, then the illegal supply will decrease, but we need a little bit of time for that to come into play,” Palmer says.

“We’re going to take a very measured approach in Vancouver, kind of a common sense approach. We do have some illegal dispensaries in Vancouver. Some have shut down, but on Oct. 17, we weren’t ready for it to be all set to go, so we need some time to make it work.”

RELATED: Raided pot dispensary remains defiant

Since pot became legal on Oct. 17, police have raided and shut down shops in other jurisdictions including two in Port Alberni on Vancouver Island. Current rules for dispensaries in Vancouver include not being located within 300 metres of schools or community centres.