Vancouver police pay visit to unlicensed cannabis vendors at Robson Square

The City of Vancouver isn’t happy with a group of unlicensed vendors who have been selling cannabis products and edibles

CIty of Vancouver staff ask for a vendor's name as they prepare to issue a written warning. Credit: Amanda Siebert

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The City of Vancouver isn’t happy with a group of unlicensed vendors who have been selling cannabis products and edibles at Robson Square.

According to an officer with the VPD, an employee with the City of Vancouver had requested the help of officers this morning (Saturday, December 2) at the location on the south side of the Vancouver Art Gallery, with the goal of issuing tickets to the dozen or so vendors who were operating without permits.

The officer on the scene told the Straight that while bylaw enforcement officials had hoped to issue $1,000 tickets to each vendor, the VPD urged them to issue warnings instead.

Officers said two vendors opted to take the tickets on principle, with plans to fight the tickets in court. Others took warnings and were forced to take down any structures, as per city bylaws.

Police officers did not confiscate any cannabis products or instruct vendors to leave, but some did leave on their own.

Two employees with the City of Vancouver’s engineering services and property use inspections were on scene, but told the Straight they weren’t authorized to provide comment on the issue.

Síle, a vendor on the scene who preferred to use her first name for privacy reasons, said that for the last two years, vendors have been intermittently setting up tables and tents in the pedestrian-only area, selling pre-rolled joints, dried cannabis, concentrates, and homemade baked goods to adults at compassionate prices.

Some vendors are regulars at events like 4/20 at Sunset Beach. While most choose to set up on the weekend, some sell products during the week as well.

This was the first time Síle had been approached by bylaw officers or the police for selling her homemade cannabis edibles.

“The city offers licences to dispensaries but the city won’t offer this market a proper farmers market vending license… You can’t say that we don’t have a proper permit or licence when you won’t give us one in the first place,” she said.

Tara Brunskill said she’d pay happily pay for a permit from the city so that she could operate within the law. Today, she was issued a warning. Credit: Amanda Siebert

Tara Brunskill drives six hours to Vancouver every other Saturday to sell baked goods and other products at Robson Square under her CannaBliss tent.

She said employees from the city shut her down for not having a permit. When she asked if she could apply for one, they said no.

“There’s no reason to fight about it because the rules are the rules, but they’re saying, ‘Get a business licence or a permit’,” she said.

“Whether it was $200 or a $1,000, I’d pay for one. The problem is, they’re not going to give us one.’

Officers told vendors that they plan to return next weekend, and that any vendors selling cannabis products would be issued a $1,000 ticket.

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