It is clear from the decision In Abbotsford (City) v. Weeds
Glass & Gifts Ltd., 2016 BCSC 135 [Weeds Glass],
that a local government may refuse to grant a business license on
the ground that the business is engaged in unlawful activity.
In this decision, the Supreme Court of British Columbia granted
the City of Abbotsford (the "City") a permanent
injunction against Weeds Glass & Gifts Ltd. (the
"Company"), which had been operating a business in
Abbotsford without a valid business license from the City.
The Company, and its predecessor the Canadian Weed Cannabis
Society (the "Society"), operated a marihuana dispensary
which engaged in the retail sale of cannabis and cannabis related
products contrary to the Controlled Drugs & Substances
Act, S.C. 1996 , c. 19 (the "CDSA").
It was not disputed by the Company or the Society that in order
to carry on business in Abbotsford, a valid business license, or an
exemption to it, is required by the City's "Consolidated
Business License Bylaw, 2006" (the "Bylaw"). The
Company and the Society further conceded that they had failed to
obtain such a license or exemption under the Bylaw to operate the
The City had previously rejected an application by Mr. Briere,
the sole director and officer of the now dissolved Society, for a
business license to operate the dispensary on behalf of the Company
and the Society. The City rejected Mr. Briere's application for
a license on the basis that the retail sale of marihuana is not
lawful, and would contravene section 5.9 of the Bylaw, which
requires a person who carries on business in the City to comply
with all applicable federal and provincial laws.
The Company continued to operate the dispensary despite a
failure to obtain a business license or an exemption to the license
requirement, and despite numerous warnings by the City to shut the
dispensary down. Ultimately, the City applied to the Court for an
injunction enjoining the Company from operating without a business
The Court held that the City has a statutory right under section
274 of the Community Charter, S.B.C. 2003, c. 26, to bring
the injunction application and the grounds on which the Court may
decline to grant the injunction are much narrower than where
injunctions are sought based on common law. Being satisfied that
the City had met the necessary requirements to support the
injunction, the Court granted the City a permanent statutory
injunction against the Company.
While the Court did not grant an injunction against the Society,
as it had been dissolved and no longer existed in law, it granted a
permanent injunction against every director, officer, liquidator,
and member of the Society, as is statutorily authorized pursuant to
section 135 of the Society Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 433.
This case shows that the Court will rarely refuse a local
government's statutory injunction application where a business
continues to operate in clear violation of a business license
bylaw. This case leaves unresolved the legality of marihuana
dispensaries operating in compliance with business licences but
contrary to federal law.
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