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Vancouver cracks down on unlicensed marijuana dispensaries

TORONTO - Vancouver started cracking down on unlicensed medical marijuana dispensaries Saturday, city spokesman Tobin Postma said, 10 months after the city became the first in Canada to regulate retailers selling the drug.

Vancouver's move comes after it announced its intentions in a statement Tuesday, in which it said it will start issuing tickets to dispensaries that flout the city's bylaw.

According to the city, medical marijuana dispensaries can be located in only city-stipulated "commercial zones" and must be 984 feet away from schools and other marijuana-related businesses, among other rules.

The rules came as the number of shops selling everything from joints to marijuana-infused lollipops has jumped to roughly 100 from about 10 five years ago.

The Vancouver Police Department has said it will not crack down on dispensaries as long as they do not sell to minors and are not selling other illicit drugs.

It is not immediately clear how many unlicensed medical marijuana dispensaries Vancouver has, though the city said it has refused 140 permits for marijuana-related businesses.

Medical marijuana is a separate issue from recreational marijuana in Canada, and the latter is illegal.

Canada's Liberal government has said it will introduce a law in spring 2017 to legalize recreational marijuana.

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