Marijuana dispensaries may survive on the West Coast, Vancouver councillor says

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      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.”

      Comments

      15 Comments

      Dylan

      Oct 2, 2013 at 8:59pm

      The dispensaries will be shut down and here is why: They have been operating in a legal "grey area" because of Health Canada's inability to make the product accessible. With these new regulations, they have made it much easier for people to access the product and therefore there really won't be any "grey area" anymore.

      Fudge

      Oct 2, 2013 at 9:33pm

      There really never was any "grey" area. The law is pretty clear about trafficking illegal narcotics.

      Herb1

      Oct 2, 2013 at 9:43pm

      An Argument for the need of Provincial responsibility for the administration and management of medical cannabis programs in Canada.

      The Provincial Dignified Access Proposal presented by the Canadian Medical Cannabis Partners suggests that in partnership with the federal government, the provinces take leadership roles in Canada by administering their own Medical Cannabis program that will put patient needs first, improve the provincial economies and satisfy fire and law enforcement needs.

      This can be successfully done by partnering with the regional districts of each province.

      As an example the Regional Districts may suggest communities in each region to be the “pilot community” and provide temporary grants of regulatory powers over production and distribution of medical cannabis for the purpose of developing data to develop a “provincially designed” medical cannabis access program.

      Under this proposal framework it is suggested that members of Regional Agricultural Societies, be contracted to grow several strains of high grade, clean, medical cannabis, under appropriate security, under license by the appropriate office of their respective provincial government, and be subject to inspection by provincial health systems and inspected by their health inspectors".

      ‘It is often cited that there are approximately 400,000 Canadians currently using cannabis for therapeutic purposes. This estimate is based on one study conducted in Ontario that found that 1.9% of the population aged 18 years and over reported that they use marijuana for medical purposes.

      (Ogborne AC, Smart RG, Adlaf EM. Self-reported medical use of marijuana: a survey of the general population. Canadian Medical Association Journal, June 13, 2000;162(12):1685-1686.)

      This is most likely an underestimate. In British Columbia alone, it is estimated that about 7%, or 290,000 people, use cannabis for therapeutic purposes (Vancouver Sun. March 22nd, 2004. “Medical Marijuana Coming to B.C. Pharmacies”. Quote from Robin O’Brien, Director of Vancouver’s Pharmacotherapy Consulting Group.)’

      It is our position that;

      I. The federal government should remove cannabis from the Narcotic Control Act, as the Commission recommended in its Interim Report. LeDainCommissionof1972

      II. The federal government should immediately initiate discussions with the provincial governmen

      Al

      Oct 2, 2013 at 10:39pm

      @Dylan: There is only one company authorized to produce and sell cannabis under the new system and they have a history of growing low quality garbage full of toxic elements..... one company who isn't even providing product yet and I must wait for it to be maild to me? hard to see how that is "much easier to access" than numerous retail dispensaries or home grows. ... Yes it was hard to get MMAR signed, but forcing us to buy from one lousy provider (or even several lousy providers) at inflated prices is not proper access.

      medicann

      Oct 3, 2013 at 2:03am

      Its pretty pathetic if the police make it their business to try and shut down a medical dispensary. Its just weed. who cares.If there is a complaint about an RCMP assaulting a citizen, can we just storm in the officers house and take all his sh*t. I wish police would think for themselves and stop being such drones. If someone is dying or has severe pain or illness who are any of us to tell them what he can and cannot put into his body, as long as he isn't hurting anybody. The reason patients don't want Health Canada's product isn't because of the quality. Its because people surrounding the marijuana culture don't want anything to do with corporate cannabis. Especially considering most growers are depicted as "gang affiliates and horrible criminals"by the government 24/7. Most people in this province want marijuana legalized and have wanted it legalized for a long time. The sad thing is, that it isn't going to happen until there is a corporate, government system put into place.Its only dangerous when they're not profiting from it. People who have no experience or knowledge about how this industry works should have no impute on where it goes. Theirs way more grease fires then grow op fires in this province every year. Maybe if it was legal in the first place people would get there grows certified by proper electricians. Instead growers get more jail time then a pedophile.

      Dave Douglas, cannabis patient.

      Oct 3, 2013 at 9:06am

      The problem isn't the MMAR or the MMPR it's the fact that Health Canada is under the the VERY misguided conception that a cannabis plant will only produce 7 grams of medicine...that's straight up BULLSHIT and whomever it was that decided that a plant produced that amount better shake the dust off their calculator and fix it, with that, the problem of back door sales ends...period. @ 2 yrs of growing I estimate the average is 300-500g per plant with the right equipment, more if you're good at it and the cost per plant to grow...ready?....between $17-23 per plant.

      missed opportunity

      Oct 3, 2013 at 9:28am

      If you had a collective of mom & pop stores or a small company that had grown to be a chain, the distribution is already set up, production is in full swing, the product is already being purchased and the collective or chain are attractive as an investment. To found a fully operational, mature business enterprise is a good thing. The government is destroying what took years to build. Again, the current dispensary system is in play BECAUSE of the mismanagement of the feds in their reluctance to comply with Supreme Court rulings. Ordinary citizens would be thrown in jail if they ignored a court order. A profitable, well run company is a desirable thing and greatly contributes to local economies. Shows the feds have absolutely no idea as to what constitutes good business practice. Shame on them for forcing supply into the hands of corporate entities. Government approved pot has already proven to be substandard. Why would anyone in their right minds give them a contract to continue to grow medicinal marijuana? Report card says FAIL. The whole thing stinks and it ain't the weed that is causing the bad smell. The industry will be driven underground where it cannot be regulated and while we're at it, WHY can't people grow their own?! Ridiculous rationale. I don't understand the argument that the current system is profiting illegal entities when our own federal government is full of senators, etc., being or have been investigated for their own illegal activities which have been to the detriment of Canadians across the country. I call foul. HEAVE STEVE!

      John

      Oct 3, 2013 at 3:02pm

      Could be a lot of mail theft increase with the new system. Thieves will get dope and pension cheques. "SCORE!"

      marc greene

      Oct 3, 2013 at 3:33pm

      if you all knew how much money was going through these dispensaries

      these people are worried their cash cow is going to go away, just like the cell phone companies they are worried to shit

      personally i hope all them go down because they make so much money but put nothing back into the campaign to get Marijuana legalized

      you all can argue this to the ground but if you look at the money involvoed your jaw would drop too