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Victoria Medical Cannabis City Hall Meeting

By admin | February 11, 2016

Regulating Medical Marijuana Related Businesses in Victoria

The City of Victoria is currently exploring potential regulations for the operation of medical marijuana-related businesses.  The purpose of the regulations is to reduce community impacts of these businesses, while maintaining access to medical marijuana.

For the next three weeks, residents and business owners are invited to learn more and share feedback through an online survey and an open house and town hall.

About Medical Marijuana:

Medical marijuana is regulated by Health Canada. Under current Health Canada regulations medical marijuana can be prescribed and then ordered from a licensed producer. Mail order is the only approved way to purchase medical marijuana.

Although some storefront retailers are currently selling marijuana, none have a Health Canada licence that permits this. The federal government has indicated that they will be exploring options to legalize marijuana during their term.

Over the course of the last year, there has been a significant increase in the number of marijuana-related businesses operating in the City of Victoria.  It is estimated that there are currently 30 medical marijuana-related businesses in Victoria, with approximately 26 of these operating as storefront medical marijuana retailers.

Public Input to Date:

In the fall of 2015, community concerns and benefits relating to the storefront sale of medical marijuana were identified. Over 80% of survey respondents seemed generally supportive of moving towards the regulation of medical marijuana-related businesses.  There was strong support for:
-age restrictions
-standard security measures
-discreet signage and advertising
-odor control
-limiting the number and location of storefronts selling medical marijuana
-focusing on customers with a medical need
-some concern about developing regulations for an activity that is currently not legal in Canada.

The full engagement summary is available here: Medical Marijuana Engagement Summary Report.pdf [PDF - 7.9 MB]

 

Proposed Regulations:

The proposed regulations distinguish between several different types of medical marijuana-related businesses:

The City is considering the following regulations:

Proposed Regulations to address health and safety concerns:

a)     Medical marijuana-related businesses must not allow individuals under the age of 19 on the premises.

b)     Medical marijuana-related businesses must not advertise or promote the use of marijuana to a minor, including through product displays, names, logos or other signage.  Minors should not be able to determine that a business is selling medical marijuana based on signage, displays or advertising that can easily be viewed by a minor.

c)     Storefront medical marijuana retailers must not sell any food products other than tinctures, capsules or edible oils.

d)     Storefront medical marijuana retailers must post health and safety warning signs on the premises, such as:
- Marijuana is not an approved drug or medicine in Canada.
- Products have not been authorized for sale under the Food and Drugs Act.  They have not been assessed for safety or efficacy to treat or prevent any disease or symptom.
- Marijuana can impair concentration, coordination and judgment.  Do not operate a vehicle or machinery under the influence of marijuana products.
- For use only by adults 19 and older.  Keep out of reach from children.

e)     Storefront medical marijuana retailers must not deliver or mail products to customers.

 

Proposed regulations to address neighbourhood impacts:

f) Storefront medical marijuana retailersmust be at least 200 m from schools and other storefront medical marijuana retailers. (In practice, this would be accomplished through changes to the City’s zoning regulation bylaw.  There are a number of factors that would impact whether or not rezoning would be required for existing retailers.)

g) Medical marijuana-related businesses must not allow the consumption of marijuana on the premises.

h) Any business that keeps marijuana on the premises must install and maintain an air filtration system to ensure odour impacts on neighbouring properties are minimized.

Proposed regulations to address security concerns:

i)       Storefront medical marijuana retailers must not be open for business between 8 p.m. and 7 a.m.

j)       No other business can be conducted on the premises of a storefront medical marijuana retailer.

k)     Storefront medical marijuana retailers must implement the following measures to deter criminal activity while the business is open to the public:
-At least two employees must be on duty, and
-Windows must not be blocked

l)       Any business that keeps marijuana on the premises must submit the following as part of their initial business licence application and on each renewal:
-A security plan
-Police information check for the applicant and every on-site manager
-Proof of a security alarm contract
-Proof of ownership or legal possession of the premises, including the written consent of the landlord if the premises are leased

m)   Any business that keeps marijuana on the premises must implement the following security measures:
-Video surveillance cameras must be installed and monitored.
-A security and fire alarm system must be installed and monitored at all times.
-Valuables must be removed from the business premises or locked in a safe on the business premises at all times when the business is not in operation.

n)     The proposed business licence fee range for storefront medical marijuana retailers has been determined based upon an estimate of the costs required to administer this type of licence, on a cost recovery basis.

Proposed annual licence fee:
0) At this time, it is anticipated that the annual licence fee for storefront medical marijuana retailers would likely be between $4,000 and $5,000.

Further details about these proposed regulations are included in this Governance and Priorities Committee report: Medical Marijuana Nov 19 Report.pdf [PDF - 3.4 MB]

Have Your Say:

The next step is to collect broad community feedback about these proposed regulations relating to the operation of medical marijuana-related businesses in Victoria.

Community members are invited to share their feedback through a survey and an open house and town hall this February on February 22.

Open House and Town Hall

Learn more about the proposed regulations at an Open House and then share your feedback directly at a Town Hall with Mayor and Council.

Date: Monday, February 22, 2016
Open House: 6:00 – 7:00 pm
Town Hall: 7:00 p.m.
Location: Victoria City Hall, 1 Centennial Square

Survey

You can complete the survey here.  It will be open until midnight on Friday, March 4.

Thank you for your interest in this important topic.

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Port Alberni Approves Weed Dispensary Regulations

By admin | February 1, 2016

Medical marijuana dispensaries are officially allowed within the City of Port Alberni—at least as far as the municipal government is concerned.

The votes remained the same as they have since the issue was first raised after WeeMedical opened its doors at the end October 2015 despite the public hearing preceding the council meeting. Mayor Mike Ruttan and Coun. Denis Sauve voted against regulating dispensaries and the other five councillors voted for regulations.

Over 40 people had packed council chambers earlier on Monday evening to voice their opinions—and the speaker’s list was split 9-8 for and against.

“Does council have the right to make these regulations?” asked Neil Anderson.

“Why are we doing this? We’ve got the cart ahead of the horse. It’s ass-backwards,” said new resident Fred Mann.

“Under the current law of the country of Canada, is what we’re doing here legal?”

“Under the current federal law, medical marijuana storefront dispensaries are not legal,” said city planner Scott Smith.

Local realtor Chuck Beyer spoke out in favour of regulations.

“What are the opportunity costs of not licencing these places? If you go a couple blocks from here and these stores are not open, the demand will simply be met by residential homes,” said Beyer.

“The police can’t possibly take care of it anymore… and politicians don’t lead, they follow. They stick their finger up in the air and they see which way the wind is blowing.”

Aaron Brevick, who owns a dispensary on Athol Street, raised concerns over privacy regulations.

“I’m not a big fan of the open glass storefront policy that’s being mandated. I believe that people should have the choice of privacy,” said Brevick. He wasn’t the only one to raise that concern

Lee Green from Nanaimo said that due to the current stigma on medical marijuana usage, people are embarrassed to buy it and deserve their privacy. Green suggested a frosted glass storefront instead of a clear one.

At the regular council meeting later on Monday night, council voted to approve zoning bylaw regulations as follow:

• dispensaries are allowed in general, service, highway commercial and core business zones

• dispensaries are not permitted within 1000 m of each other or 300 m of schools

• dispensaries must be dispensaries only—no shared use

• no ATMS

Approved business bylaw regulation include:

• all dispensaries, even non-profits require a $220 business licence

• store fronts must be transparent

• no minors

• signage to indicate product is unregulated

• an understanding that city bylaws do not mean compliance with senior government laws

Fines of $100-150 per day can be levied if the above requirements aren’t met, Smith said.

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What To Do When Marijuana Edibles Reach Expiration Dates

By admin | January 16, 2016

January 11, 2016, by

 

DENVER — We all know what to do when we find expired milk in refrigerators. But what about expired marijuana edibles?

As Colorado’s burgeoning pot industry continues to grow, it’s a question some have asked.

Usually, you can do the smell test to figure out if something has gone bad.

The answers might not be so obvious when it comes to expired marijuana edibles. But Denver’s Department of Environmental Health said many of the same rules apply.

Whether it’s milk that has gone bad or an edible whose expiration date has come and gone, both generally won’t make you sick.

“When it’s past its prime, it’s going to develop spoilage organisms, things that might cause mold, an off taste. But those are not the same types of organisms that make us sick,” said Danica Less, spokeswoman with the Denver Department of Environmental Health.

Instead, expired edibles won’t be at their peak of freshness or quality. But what about THC, the ingredient that induces a high?

“The THC level pretty much remains the same. What changes after the expiration date is the consistency of the edible product itself,” said Stan Zislis, the owner of Silver Stem Fine Cannabis.

Still, he said he won’t sell expired product. He said most vendors will pick it up and destroy it according to state regulator guidelines.

“Generally, it has to be ground up with general waste, rendered unusable,” Zislis said.

But what about expired edibles at home? Just like spoiled milk or yucky yogurt, toss it in the trash.

But if you don’t want to throw away good money on sometimes pricey pot products, Lee said you can freeze them and stop the clock to preserve the quality.

But some edible users said their goodies aren’t around long enough to expire.

Lee said the organisms that make people sick like salmonella and E. coli come from contamination and not the natural process of decay.

So, generally, the most danger you’ll find from expired edibles is breaking a tooth on a rock-hard gummy.

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Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance Wants Regulations Changed

By admin | January 3, 2016

Agriculture News
Written by Amy-Jean MacLean

The Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance (CHTA), which held its national convention in Calgary last week, says the current Industrial Hemp Regulations need to be changed.

Under the current rules, Canadian farmers are only permitted to harvest the seeds and bare stock.

CHTA Executive Director Kim Shukla says although hemp contains low levels of the psychoactive ingredient THC, there is another beneficial cannabinoid known as cannabidiol or CBD that is contained in other parts of the plant.

“That has been shown under research to have some pretty significant beneficial health impacts,” she said. “This is being supported by research studies that have been done in Canada and abroad.”

In a CHTA press release, Dr. Steve Laviolette of the University of Western Ontario states, “Cannabidiol may serve as an effective treatment for devastating psychiatric disorders including schizophrenia, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. In addition, emerging evidence is revealing potential benefits of cannabidiol for the treatment of epilepsy.”

Shukla says other jurisdictions, including parts of the US, are permitted to harvest other parts of the hemp plant, which puts Canadian farmers at a disadvantage.

“What’s really quite frustrating is that Canada has been the leader in hemp production for the past 15 years. It’s a market advantage that we have but we are very close to losing that advantage because of these antiquated regulations under which we operate,” she said.

CHTA is asking for immediate action from the newly elected Liberal government. Shukla is hoping the Liberals stance on legalizing marijuana will have on positive impact on the hemp industry.

She estimates losses to Canadian farmers to be in the billions of dollars.

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Will Canada’s New Weed Regime be a Total Mess?

By admin | December 14, 2015

by NEWS 1130 Staff

Posted Dec 14, 2015 8:15 am PST

Dispute about right to grow individually and wrangling between government bodies could be among issues

Many groups don’t see full recreational marijuana program in the next 12 months

 

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – From celebrations to threats of protests against Prime Minister Trudeau in a little over a month, many pot advocates are worried the push to legalize marijuana in Canada will be a total mess.

“There are going to be a lot of things for the Trudeau government to reckon with. A lot of people are hoping this is going to be an easy process but so far, we haven’t received many details about how he’s going to make this happen,” says Rachel Browne, a reporter for VICE News, which has put out a piece extrapolating on the difficulties around repeated promises to “legalize, regulate, and restrict” access to marijuana for recreational use in Canada.

“There’s an ongoing dispute about the right to grow individually. The big companies in charge of creating and distributing medical marijuana right now do not think people should have the right to grow their own plants,” Browne tells NEWS 1130.

“There are also concerns about medical marijuana and the rights that patients have. If they have to go to the recreational markets, there are questions about how that will override their medical needs.”

She also points out there will be a lot of wrangling between Health Canada, Public Safety, and the Department of Justice.

“There’s also a concern that there will possibly be a monopoly in the cultivation and supply of marijuana. But I have heard that the group representing many dispensaries is now starting to communicate with Health Canada, which they weren’t able to do under the Conservative government. There are new voices the government will now have to reckon with.”

The prime minister has said it could take years to get through the legalization process and many of the groups Browne spoke with don’t see a full recreational marijuana program within the next 12 months.

“But a lot of advocates I’ve talked to think Trudeau could immediately strike cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act and there could be bigger discussions when it comes to the ongoing raids on dispensaries and the criminal charges that continue to be laid for marijuana-related offences,” she says.

“Some of the people I spoke with said they rallied together to help Trudeau get into office, hoping this would get done quickly. I’ve heard the term ‘revolt’ used. Some advocates say that if Trudeau comes to Vancouver anytime soon, they will hold protests.”

The head of Sensible BC is among those demanding the Liberal government immediately stop arrests for cannabis possession and personal cultivation.

“We are seeing arrests and raids with police waging a pointless battle against medical marijuana access. It’s pretty shocking that we are seeing this accelerating under Trudeau, which is something we didn’t expect,” says Dana Larsen, who says pot users will legitimize weed their own way.

“I am encouraging people to start growing cannabis in their outdoor gardens this spring. Everybody should be growing a half dozen plants whether or not it’s legal. This campaign isn’t about waiting for politicians to do the right thing, it’s always been about us moving forward and ‘overgrowing’ the government, civilly disobeying these laws,” says Larsen.

“This campaign is going to continue.”

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Justin Trudeau Takes First Step Toward Marijuana Legalization in Canada

By admin | November 28, 2015

 

New Justice Minister asked to set up legal framework

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has called on Canada’s newly appointed Minister of Justice and Attorney-General Jody Wilson-Raybould to look into implementing marijuana legalization in the country.

In a mandate letter written to Wilson-Raybould, published on Friday, Trudeau asked her to collaborate with other ministers to “create a federal-provincial-territorial process that will lead to the legalization and regulation of marijuana.”

But challenges involving the regulation of edible marijuana, and drug-impaired driving, could still hinder the legalization process, Lewis Koski, Colorado’s director of the Marijuana Enforcement Division, told the CBC. Colorado is one of four U.S. states where recreational marijuana use has been legalized.

“It’s going to be a lot harder to implement than you think. It’s going to take a lot longer to do it. And it’s going to cost more than you think,” Koski said.

Read the full mandate letter here.

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CANNABOND Sales Over

By admin | October 28, 2015

BY TED SMITHIN ACTIVISM · BLOG · CANADA · FULL · LEGAL — 28 OCT, 2015

Ted Smith

Twelve years after releasing CANNABONDS, sales are officially ending today. Anyone wanting to get the promised quarter ounce of cannabis will have to wait until 3 months after the new laws legalizing cannabis are passed before they can cash it in. For now, the International Hempology 101 Society is very happy to announce the end of this campaign, which is over because the new federal Liberal government appears intent upon legalizing cannabis in the next few years.

Now the battles will be fought over who can be allowed to produce and distribute cannabis. Many fear the new laws will eliminate small business from entering the market, handing the industry over to the very big businesses that made the plant illegal in the first place. What form of legalization our government creates will determine how easily the existing black market moves into the new economy or whether overly restrictive regulations will favor large corporations. But that is another story.

Back in 2003 the money raised by selling CANNABONDS for $25 helped pay for several court cases I was fighting. Sales were close to 300, raising about $7,500 which was paid to lawyer Robert Moore-Stewart, now deceased. However, the society cannot lay claim to having thought of the idea in the first place, as selling futures in cannabis legalization was originally coined by legendary activist Chris Clay.

In the mid 1990s, Chris operated Hemp Nation in London, Ontario until he was run out of town by the police. He launched a constitutional challenge against the cannabis laws, the first of its kind with a long list of excellent expert witnesses to back him up. In a brilliant attempt to pay for this, Chris launched Victory Bonds, promising a quarter ounce of cannabis to everyone who paid the $25 price of the bond. It was very successful, bringing in around $25,000 for court costs.

A couple of years later I found myself and my employees getting arrested a lot and I needed to come up with a plan. In Nov 2000 I was arrested at the University of Victoria and charged with trafficking for passing out joints. One week later I was arrested downtown prepared to give out 420 pot cookies I had made for International Medical Marijuana Day, eventually being charged with trafficking THC for that. Police raids on the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club in Jan, March and June 2002, and one final one in Feb 2003, had left me close to bankrupt.

The next challenge for Hempology 101 will be to find a way to get the almost 4 pounds of cannabis we will need to pay back the bond holders. When the CANNABONDS were issued we gave the society three months to start paying back those who wanted to cash the certificate in. In theory this gives the society just enough time to grow the herb itself. Certainly the group will proceed to set-up a nice size garden if the new laws permit but otherwise will have to find other means to follow through with its end of the deal. That is a problem we are happy to face.

The International Hempology 101 Society would like to thank everyone who bought a CANNABOND back when it was not certain at all that we would achieve our goal. It will be interesting to see exactly how many are eventually returned or whether people realize it is far more valuable as a relic of the days when cannabis was quite illegal. With legalization on the horizon, we are witnessing the end of a long war and the beginning of a new era in peace and prosperity.

cannabisdigest.ca

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Doctors say prescription pot rules too strict

By admin | October 9, 2015

Globalnews.ca

October 9, 2015 10:52 am

Doctors say prescription pot rules too strict

By Gemma Karstens-Smith The Canadian Press

VANCOUVER – The Canadian Medical Association and the federal government apply a far more rigid standard to prescribing marijuana than other drugs, resulting in negative — or even deadly — consequences, say experts from the B.C. Centre for Excellent in HIV/AIDS.

Medical marijuana is held to a different standard than other prescription drugs despite research suggesting it has therapeutic benefits, say three experts from the centre in a commentary published Friday in the Journal of the Canadian Public Health Association.

“When it comes to prescription marijuana, patients’ needs should be considered above political considerations,” Dr. Julio Montaner, one of the authors, said in a news release. “There could be great harm in ignoring the medical uses of marijuana.”

The government and the CMA are being overly cautious, co-author Dr. Thomas Kerr said in an interview.

“This is just not how we deliver medical care and why we’re doing it in the case of cannabis is beyond me,” he said.

Several recent studies have shown prescription cannabis can have therapeutic benefits, but the CMA and others have failed to acknowledge the research, resulting in a position that isn’t based on evidence, Kerr’s commentary said.

Other studies have shown prescribing cannabis may lead to a reduction in overdoses and deaths associated with prescription opioid.

“This can’t be taken too lightly because Canada, like the U.S., is in the midst of an epidemic of prescription opioid abuse and related overdose deaths,” Kerr said.

While marijuana is not associated with an elevated risk of mortality, prescription opioids contribute to nearly half of all overdose deaths — a leading cause of accident related mortality, the article points out.

Under Canada’s current medical marijuana laws, patients must obtain prescription cannabis from federally licensed producers, generally through the mail. There are currently 26 licensed producers listed on Health Canada’s website.

The idea of sending prescription drugs through the mail is odd, Kerr said.

“We would never do that in the case of treating someone with diabetes,” he said. “Really, people should have access to experts who can counsel them on appropriate dosing, potential side effects and their management and who can also provide other options and clinical followup.”

The caution towards cannabis comes because it is illegal and because the federal government “has been making up the science on the fly,” Kerr said, pointing to the example of Stephen Harper saying that marijuana is “infinitely worse” than tobacco.

“It’s unfortunate that the federal government has really failed to deliver an effective medical-cannabis program and it’s unfortunate that they’ve also misrepresented the science in this area,” he said.

Kerr said government and other interested agencies should consider implementing a system where cannabis is legalized, and both medical and recreational use are regulated using evidence-based discussions and approaches.

Kerr is co-director of the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS’s Urban Health Research Initiative. His co-authors are Montaner, director of the centre, and Stephanie Lake, a research assistant at the centre.

 

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Medical Cannabis Advocacy Groups Call For Boycott Of Nevada State Athletic Commission Following Nick Diaz Ruling

By admin | September 22, 2015

Pro MMA Now

Medical Cannabis Advocacy Groups Call For Boycott Of Nevada State Athletic Commission Following Nick Diaz Ruling

Posted by: Pro MMA Now Staff on September 22, 2015

I am a former Canadian Boxing Champion, retired professional boxer and mixed martial artist, prescribed medical cannabis patient, and a health and wellness advisor at the Shadow Mountain Medicinal Society. I am a prescribed patient of medical marijuana because of injuries suffered in my profession. I was prescribed non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication for years that hurt my stomach. I now use a topical cannabis cream that takes away the inflammation and pain.

I volunteer my mornings at the dispensary where our team provides patients access to medical cannabis. To become a prescribed patient for medical cannabis one must go through a screening process with a doctor and pharmacist. National Access Cannabis is there to help them navigate Canada’s Cannabis Medical Access Program. If they qualify, they are prescribed medication, and can then come see us at our dispensaries. We provide clean, quality tested products, offer a supportive ear and help our clients with advice.

When Nick Diaz received a 5-year suspension and a $165,000 fine for testing positive for cannabis – as a prescribed patient – this was the tipping point for me. Another UFC fighter tested positive for cocaine, another tested positive for three different steroids; both of those athletes only received 1-year suspensions. These obvious discrepancies point to the fact that this is not about doling out appropriate punishments, or even the protection of fighters.

I reached out to Nick Diaz to let him know about the patients I see who are persecuted every day for choosing this medicine. I let him know how many other people out there are in his position and that he is an inspiration for us all. I also let him know we are going to support not only him but others that are being persecuted. Nick was thankful and replied, “I know I’ve been fighting for something for a long time, but I didn’t realize this is what I’m fighting for until now. I’m happy to fight for other people in this position.”

After speaking with Nick, I reached out to advocate Ted Smith who is responsible for the recently changed laws in Canada with his recent victory in the Supreme Court of Canada allowing the right to use products other than dried cannabis. Ted and Owen Smith were found not guilty after they were charged for baking edibles for cannabis patients. Ted said, “I will always be available to support cannabis patient.”

I also reached out to Dieter McPherson of the Canadian Association of Medical Dispensaries who also offered his support. Dieter spoke about the studies of treatment of concussions and injuries with cannabis and was surprised of the ignorance of the fight commissions. Together we have come together in a unified voice to help stand up for people who continue to be persecuted for their choice of medicine.

No one deserves to be judged, persecuted, shamed or punished for wanting pain relief from a legal, safe medicine.
We are calling on all members of Shadow Mountain Medical Society, National Access Cannabis, Leafly, the Cannabis Buyers Club of Canada, CANLIO, Cannabis Digest, the Canadian Association of Medical Cannabis Dispensaries and anyone else who wants to end of persecution of Medical Cannabis prescribed patients. We have a unified group in boycotting all Nevada State Athletic events until they drop the punishment and fine, and allow an exemption for prescribed medical cannabis patients.

Shadow Mountain Medicinal Society is dedicated to the protection of medical cannabis patients. We support patients of our community who exercise their legal right to choose cannabis medicinally. Together, we stand for good solutions, good medicine and sound decisions. We will continue to stand until our right to choose this safe and effective medicine is both respected and protected.

Sign the petition at shadowmountaindispensary.com.

Sincerely, Jason Heit

Shadow Mountain Medicinal Society

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Ottawa orders pot dispensaries to close, threatens to send in the Mounties

By admin | September 10, 2015

The Globe and Mail

Ottawa orders pot dispensaries to close, threatens to send in the Mounties

MIKE HAGER
VANCOUVER — The Globe and Mail
Published Thursday, Sep. 10, 2015

Health Canada has sent out cease-and-desist letters to at least a handful of illegal marijuana dispensaries and compassion clubs across the country, warning the RCMP could raid them if they don’t shut down immediately.

The threat is the first indication the federal government is prepared to directly intervene to shut down Canada’s storefront dispensaries, most of which operate in Vancouver and Victoria, where local governments have allowed them to proliferate and have either passed bylaws to regulate them or plan to. The letter also raises the possibility Ottawa could send the Mounties into those cities, where the local police forces have largely stood by while pot shops flourished.

Health Minister Rona Ambrose pledged at the beginning of August to create a task force to actively monitor and prevent such stores from selling or advertising pot.

A letter emailed Wednesday to Vancouver’s B.C. Compassion Club Society, Canada’s oldest medical pot dispensary, threatened that the RCMP would be called in “for enforcement action as they deem necessary” if the 18-year-old operation didn’t stop immediately and submit a written statement confirming this action by Sept. 21.

“The sale and advertising of marijuana is illegal,” the letter says. “You are encouraging Canadians to engage in conduct that could also expose them to criminal liability.”

Jamie Shaw, spokeswoman for the compassion club and president of the Canadian Association of Medical Cannabis Dispensaries, said at least three other stores in B.C. and elsewhere have received the letter, which she called puzzling, because her non-profit has long sold marijuana to its members and has never advertised. Her group has asked the government for more clarity.

“If they think we’re just going to close down in two weeks and cut off all our patients, they really don’t understand where we’re coming from,” Ms. Shaw said. “We’ve always been willing to risk arrest.”

These stores are illegal because they procure and sell their products outside the federal medical marijuana system, which was overhauled last year to allow industrial-scale production of pot products that are mailed directly to licensed patients.

After the city passed new regulations in June that will hand out business licences while imposing restrictions on dispensaries, Ms. Ambrose repeatedly asked Vancouver police to “enforce the law” and shut down the roughly 100 dispensaries operating within the city.

The letter suggests the federal government is working around these police forces by threatening to bring Mounties into these lenient jurisdictions, said Dieter McPherson, a Victoria-based cannabis advocate and adviser to the Canadian Association of Medical Cannabis Dispensaries.

“They have few avenues of recourse any more because people are on the side of dispensaries and the laxening of medical marijuana laws, in general,” Mr. McPherson said.

The Health Canada letter also says operators that refuse to shut down their dispensaries could face fines of up to $5-million or two years in prison, or both, under Bill C-17, which passed into law last November.

The law introduced increased fines and penalties for regulatory offences under the Food and Drugs Act.

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