Close or pay up: Unauthorized cannabis stores in Abbotsford may soon face huge fines

Minimum fine of $5,000 set for selling, storing or cannabis without licence

Abbotsford cannabis dispensaries operating without a licence could soon face huge fines.

On Monday, the city opened a two-month window for would-be legal cannabis sellers to apply to operate one of four new stores in Abbotsford. At a council meeting the same day, staff introduced a new bylaw that will, upon adoption, give bylaw officers the ability to levy huge fines against cannabis sellers who aren’t licenced and approved by the city.

A new enforcement bylaw will set a minimum fine of $5,000 for the unauthorized production, storing, processing or selling of cannabis. The city has previously fined unlicenced marijuana dealers for operating without a business licence.

The city is also hiking other fine amounts to $500. The changes won’t impact parking or other minor regulatory violations. Fines reduced – or wiped out – if those ticketed sign a compliance agreement.

Raj Sharma, the city’s finance general manager, said the fines hadn’t been increased to match inflation and were no longer deterring residents and businesses from violating bylaws.

“These fines are treated as the cost of doing business,” he said.

Council gave the bylaw three readings Monday. It is likely to be adopted in two weeks.

The city has also opened a competitive process to determine who will be allowed to legally sell marijuana in Abbotsford. The city has set a four-store limit and pre-zoned 10 sites – mostly in large and medium-sized shopping complexes – to permit cannabis sales.

Would-be sellers have two months to submit applications. The applications will include details on the operator, the store’s layout, and measures to mitigate the effect on the surrounding effort.

Applicants must confirm that they are not currently operating an unauthorized cannabis business, but those who have operated unauthorized cannabis businesses in the past are not barred – so long as they close their shops by the time they apply.

It will cost prospective sellers $7,500 to buy. The city says that will cover the costs associated with reviewing and collecting input on each proposal.

After the city closes the application period, staff will review the proposals. Police and the Abbotsford School Board will also be consulted, the city will seek the public’s input, and council will be left to endorse up to four of the proposals.

The News asked the city for details about fines levied against unlicenced cannabis sellers in 2019, but did not hear back by press time.

RELATED: Aspiring pot-sellers can apply in two weeks to operate stores in Abbotsford

RELATED: Abbotsford looks to charge aspiring legal cannabis sellers large fee to apply to open store

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
tolsen@abbynews.com


@ty_olsen
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Machine pistol among 14 firearms seized from Alaska man at Abbotsford border crossing

Corey Scott Kettering faces charges of smuggling and prohibited firearm possession

CHARTS: Beyond Metro Vancouver, COVID-19 cases in B.C. haven’t increased much recently

COVID-19 case counts outside of Metro Vancouver have been level since July

UFV to launch Peace and Reconciliation Centre in Abbotsford

Online event on Sept. 24 features keynote speaker Bob Rae and Steven Point

UFV wrestler Jason Bains receives four-year suspension for using banned substance

Surrey native tests positive for oral steroid Turinabol, silver national medal removed for violation

Fraser Valley foursome to hike 70km over mountains in memory of friend

Friends from Abbotsford and Langley to hike from Hope to Tulameen for Brook Morrison

3 new deaths due to COVID-19 in B.C., 139 new cases

B.C. confirms 40 ‘historic cases,’ as well

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

Emaciated grizzly found dead on central B.C. coast as low salmon count sparks concern

Grizzly was found on Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw territory in Smith Inlet, 60K north of Port Hardy

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

Young Canadians have curtailed vaping during pandemic, survey finds

The survey funded by Heart & Stroke also found the decrease in vaping frequency is most notable in British Columbia and Ontario

B.C. teachers file Labour Relations Board application over COVID-19 classroom concerns

The application comes as B.C.’s second week of the new school year comes to a close

70-year-old punched in the head in dispute over disability parking space in Nanaimo

Senior’s turban knocked off in incident at mall parking lot

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Mother-daughter charged in 2017 torched-SUV killing in South Surrey now allowed contact

Judge grants Manjit Kaur Deo permission to connect with Inderdeep Kaur Deo through a lawyer

Most Read