For Vancouver’s 500,000+ cannabis lovers, it’s not hard to find a dispensary. In fact, they have more than 98 marijuana dispensaries in the city, which means the number of marijuana dispensaries in Vancouver has officially passed the number of Starbucks Coffee shops in the city. This is especially shocking to many because in 2013 there were only 14 dispensaries in Vancouver (and a Starbucks on every corner).
While this is music to the ears of marijuana enthusiasts, others are starting to worry about how quickly the shops are opening and whether or not they are being legitimately regulated. This is all in spite of national legality: cannabis is still illegal in Canada—even though Vancouver has upwards of 90 dispensaries. The Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association has even called on city council to close every marijuana shop in Vancouver. However that doesn’t look like it will happen anytime soon as the Police have said that dispensaries are a “low priority” and don’t often go after dispensaries unless there is a public risk, such as marijuana being sold to minors. To battle this issue, the city recently proposed a licensing plan.
The city’s proposed licensing plan looks something like this:
- Operators would be subject to an annual $30,000 fee
- The sale of edible pot products would be banned
- ATM’s would not be allowed in-store
- Stores wouldn’t be allowed to operate in certain neighbourhoods, including the Downtown Eastside
- Stores would not be allowed to set up shop within 300-metres of schools or community centers (which would mean the closure of many shops that already exist)
- Of course, minors wouldn’t be allowed to buy products.
Despite the fact that nearly 5,000 British Columbians are registered to possess dried medical marijuana through the federal government, they would not be able to legally buy from these dispensaries even if they were regulated, as it’s not through the federal plan. So whether or not the proposal passes, the federal government still views the selling of marijuana in dispensaries as illegal.
While the sheer number of dispensaries in Vancouver deserves a standing ovation, it isn’t like that in the rest of the country. The Globe and Mail found that there are only 21 dispensaries outside the province of British Columbia (B.C.) and another another 35 in B.C. that were not in Vancouver.
It looks like almost anything marijuana-related goes in Vancouver (regardless of legality) despite the rest of Canada not knowing where it stands. Kudos to you Vancouver.
Featured image Bruce Stanfield