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:

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

Abbotsford weed dispensary held up by masked robber with weapon

City’s second pot-shop robbery to take place in one month

COLUMN: Not an expert on First Nations government structures? Then maybe you should calm down.

Consider your knowledge about First Nations governance structures before getting really, really mad

Mysterious bang booms over Sumas Mountain once again

Police unsure of source, quarry companies say, ‘not us’

Chilliwack widow ‘crushed’ over stolen T-shirts meant for memorial blanket

Lori Roberts lost her fiancé one month ago Tuesday now she’s lost almost all she had left of him

Local developer’s Abbotsford homes shortlisted for two national housing awards

Algra Bros. won in 2014 for Garrison Crossing brownstones in Chilliwack

Pipeline dispute: Tories put no-confidence motion on House of Commons agenda

Conservatives say they have no confidence in the Trudeau government to end the rail blockades

B.C., federal ministers plead for meeting Wet’suwet’en dissidents

Scott Fraser, Carolyn Bennett says they can be in Smithers Thursday

TransLink seeks injunction ahead of pipeline, Indigenous rights protest

The protest rally is in opposition to the Coastal GasLink and Trans Mountain pipeline projects

Province shows no interest in proposed highway between Alberta and B.C.

Province says it will instead focus on expanding the Kicking Horse Canyon to four lanes

First case of COVID-19 in B.C. has fully recovered, health officer says

Three other cases are symptom-free and expected to test negative soon

A&W employees in Ladysmith get all-inclusive vacation for 10 years of service

Kelly Frenchy, Katherine Aleck, and Muriel Jack are headed on all-expenses-paid vacations

Via Rail lays off 1,000 employees temporarily as anti-pipeline blockades drag on

The Crown corporation has suspended passenger trains on its Montreal-Toronto and Ottawa-Toronto

Budget 2020: Weaver ‘delighted,’ minority B.C. NDP stable

Project spending soars along with B.C.’s capital debt

Langley teen who died of apparent drug overdose to receive a hockey-themed memorial

Police report on Carson Crimeni case now in the hands of Crown counsel

Most Read