VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – One of Vancouver’s biggest pot brands, Cannabis Culture is closing all of its dispensaries in the city.
This follows a BC Supreme Court decision from last month, ordering dozens of illicit cannabis dispensaries to close their doors — or else. Cannabis Culture was one of the chains on the losing end of that case.
A statement from CEO Jeremiah Vandermeer says the city has been threatening staff with arrests, fines, jail time, and forced closures if they did not comply with the decision.
Three locations are set to close at the end of January: Davie Street, East Hastings, and West Broadway. Fifty employees have been given layoff notices.
The flagship store near Victory Square will remain open for now.
Activist Jodie Emery says this is “devastating, heartbreaking news” and is urging supporters to lobby city council and convince it to prevent the closures.
“This legalization in Canada means more laws, tougher laws, more police, crackdown units, all sorts of prohibitions and bans across the board,” Emery says.
Emery expects other shops to follow their lead.
“Because when the City of Vancouver says ‘we’re going to fine you, arrest you and seek jail time’ that’s serious prohibition talk, that’s serious criminal punishment so a lot of dispensaries are not willing to take that risk,” she adds.
The City of Vancouver has only issued licenses to three new recreational cannabis stores.
For the city’s part, it says the dispensaries are operating illegally and need to close up but their owners are more than welcome to apply for a licence.