New Report Shows Pot Dispensaries Tripled In Hamilton

A new report shows the number of marijuana dispensaries operating in Hamilton has tripled in the past year despite increased bylaw enforcement efforts.

There are 46 marijuana dispensaries operating in Hamilton, Ontario, a local daily reported on Friday, citing a newly released report.

This is compared to 15 dispensaries, which were in operation last January, the Hamilton Spectator said. The daily cited the new figure from a report prepared by Ken Leendertse, Hamilton’s director of licensing and bylaw services.

Marijuana continues to be illegal in Canada, however, the federal government is pushing for a nationwide legalization this summer.

Hamilton Zoning Rules

Hamilton police struggle
Hamilton police are seeking 4 suspects after a robbery at a downtown Hamilton medical marijuana dispensary that happened April 2017. via The Spec

To date, the city has issued 76 zoning notifications to property owners and business owners related to marijuana dispensaries. That led to 27 zoning charges, 12 business licensing violation notices, seven bylaw violation notices and four property standards orders. Nevertheless, 46 dispensaries still operating, 12 have been closed and another 17 locations are still under investigation.

The report notes that the city’s bylaw service is part of a multi-agency task force along with Hamilton police, public health, Hamilton fire department and the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario. Also, some legalities mean that bylaw services and Hamilton police have not worked together on enforcement targeting marijuana dispensaries.

Despite the efforts, the city’s bylaw enforcement division has had limited success in closing the dispensaries.

Dispensaries will just re-open

Hamilton is wanting change
Doug Conley is frustrated with the proliferation of marijuana dispensaries in the city. via Hamilton News

In September, Doug Conley, councilor of the Stoney Creek community in Hamilton, brought forward a motion to a council seeking the help of Hamilton police in the fight against dispensaries. He was particularly upset about a marijuana dispensary operating on King Street East, near The Attic Pizza Parlour, which he says is still in operation.

“I’m really frustrated,” said Conley. “You can’t do anything about them. Apparently, the city can’t do anything.”

Conley said he’s been told it can take up to 60 days to obtain a warrant. But even if the police managed to remove everything: “The dispensary can start up the next day.”

He also added that the courts are reluctant to prosecute because they say according to him:

‘Well, things are going to change in six months.'”

The city is currently seeking an injunction against a marijuana dispensary. It would require it to cease violating licensing and zoning bylaws. A court date for a hearing has not yet been scheduled.