Marijuana dispensaries may survive on the West Coast, Vancouver councillor says
Effective April 1, 2014, Ottawa is rescinding more than 11,500 British Columbians’ licences to grow medicinal marijuana. But that might not actually change much on the West Coast, according to Vision Vancouver councillor Kerry Jang.
“A), there is no way that we can enforce shutdowns; b), we don’t even know where they are,” he told the Straight in a telephone interview. “They are going to try and shut down every legal grow-op, but they’ve provided no support to us as municipalities.”
With the switch from the old regulation to the Conservatives’ new Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulation, licence holders will only be allowed to purchase dried cannabis via mail order from a small number of large-scale producers. That calls into question the future of storefront dispensaries, of which there are about 20 in Vancouver. But according to Jang, changes in Ottawa might not mean much for those operations either.
“They are supposed to shut down, but as to whether they will or not, we’ll see,” Jang said, adding that he’s not really worried about it.
“Quite frankly, to be honest, if there has not been an issue with a particular supplier or grower, it doesn’t concern me,” he explained. “We have gotten complaints about one or two, and those are the ones that are dealing out the back door….But on the ones that are doing it properly, I have not heard a peep. It hasn’t been a big deal.”
Both Health Canada and the B.C. Ministry of Health declined to make representatives available for interviews on the topic of medicinal marijuana.
Vancouver police spokesperson Const. Randy Fincham would only say that it’s too early to tell how the regulatory changes will affect officers’ operations.
Dana Larsen, director of the Sensible B.C. campaign to decriminalize marijuana, told the Straight that he’s optimistic that a court case led by Vancouver’s Jason Wilcox could stop the cancellation of personal production licences.
“There is a legal campaign and we’re hoping that we are going to be able to delay the implementation of the removal of those licences,” Larsen said. “It seems pretty plausible that we should at least be able to delay things while we deal with these legal issues.”