City of Vancouver slashes high licensing fees for cannabis retailers

Cannabis stores in Vancouver will pay a reduced licence fee of $13,500 in 2022.

Councillor Rebecca Bligh successfully filed earlier this year a motion directing staff to come up with a new fee structure for cannabis shops in Vancouver.

0

Cannabis retailers in Vancouver will pay a lower licence fee in 2022, thanks to the advocacy of city councillor Rebecca Bligh.

The first-term councillor successfully introduced a motion in February this year, which directed city staff to reduce fees for cannabis shops.

Vancouver city staff came back with recommendations, which Bligh said were approved unanimously by council in a meeting Tuesday (October 5).

Bligh told CannCentral that it was clear that the fees were “unjustified”.

Cannabis retailers in Vancouver currently pay almost $34,000 for their annual licence, or $33,958 to be exact.

That is about eight times the fee for another type of retail store with a 50,000-square-foot shop, which gets charged for $4,595.

A small grocery pays an annual licence fee of $919, and a liquor store, $429.

Bligh related to CannCentral that the licence fee for cannabis shops will be reduced to $13,500 in 2022.

In addition, staff will later come back to council with a further recommendation to bring down the fee to $5,000 in 2023.

“Staff have persistently stated that the fee of $34,000 per year has been cost recovery directly related to cannabis business licences,” Bligh recalled.

“We now hear $5,000 would cover the costs to administer cannabis business licences,” the Vancouver city councillor added.

Bligh noted that some cannabis retailers are “still feeling the sting” of the acknowledgement that the city can actually afford to charge lower charges.

The Vancouver councillor explained that they believe that the 2022 licensing fee should actually be $5,000.

“I tend to agree with them,” Bligh said.

Sarah Hicks is the chief licence inspector with the City of Vancouver.

In a report to council, Hicks explained that the city is “now in a better financial position to consider new approaches to the cannabis retail licence fee”.

The city executive related that the city recovered most of its start-up costs from cannabis legalization and generated a surplus in 2020 with 34 licences.

“The City will continue to generate a surplus in 2021 as the number of business licences as of August

31 have increased to 53,” Hicks wrote.

In a CannCentral interview in February 2021, Bligh warned that the high licensing fees may encourage the proliferation of illegal weed shops.

“We want to make sure that we can enable as many legal cannabis retail locations as possible,” Bligh said at the time.

Follow Carlito Pablo on Twitter at @carlitopablo

Leave your opinion for the editor...We read everything!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *