Recent Articles

Recent Comments

« | Main | »

Vancouver Out Of Line On Pot, BC Solicitor General Warns.

By admin | September 10, 2004

By Jim Beatty and Maurice Bridge,
CanWest News Service.

Solicitor General Rich Coleman says it is unacceptable for marijuana to be openly sold in Vancouver stores while city politicians take a “ho-hum attitude” to the illegal activity.

“You can’t take a soft attitude towards the fact that somebody wants to sell an illegal drug in a store under a business licence in that city.” Coleman said Wednesday, denouncing the city’s weak response to the illegal activity.

Coleman does not direct police operations or investigations, but he said he is confident the law will be enforced.

However, Vancouver police media liaison officer Const. Sarah Bloor simply repeated the position the department has taken since the issue exploded last week, after the proprietor of Da Kine Smoke & Beverage Shop on Commercial Drive admitted marijuana was being sold on the premises:

“We’re aware of Rich Coleman’s comments and the chief has already indicated he does not support criminal behavior from business,” Bloor said Wednesday. “There will be an investigation, and we are in the process of investigating those businesses that conduct themselves in an illegal manner.”

Bloor would not say whether any other business are under investigation for selling marijuana.

“We’re aware of them, and we priorotize them as to how we can get to them in relation to other investigations that we have ongoing,” she said.

“We’re aware of public concern and we’re addressing those.”

Several city councillors appeared unconcerned that stores on Commercial Drive have been selling marijuana over the counter, including Da Kine and The Spirit Within.

“I don’t think we need a ho-hum attitude to anything [dealing] with drugs.” Coleman said. “You’ve got people driving into a neighbourhood, buying marijuana, smoking it and driving away in their cars…That, to me, is unacceptable.

“Marijuana is still against the law in this country to be sold and we have to deal with it. It’s not something that we want popping up on every corner because somebody thinks they can break the law.”

Three members of city council will conduct a hearing Sept. 15 to determine whether the shops business licence will be revoked. The hearing will be chaired by Coun. Anne Roberts, assited by councillors Fred Bass and Tim Louis.

City lawyers will be present, and Da Kine is expected to bring its own legal council. The VPD may also make a presentation.

Paul Teichroeb, Vancouver’s chief licence inspector, says there was no suggestionj marijuana might be sold in the shop when Da Kine was granted a business licence May 4.

“We were somewhat concerned, so we ewre very careful about asking them about exactely their type of business and what they were going to sell,” he said Wednesday.

“We were assured it was going to be publications and some food, and everything that would conform to the bylaw, and on that basis we issued a licence.

“We were very specific about whether there was going to be any illegal activity or sale of marijuana or other products, and we were assured that that wasn’t going to occur on the premise.”

Da Kine proprietor Carol Gwilt said the marijuana is sold not by Da Kine, but by the Cannabis Sanctuary Society, a non-profit society to which Da Kine donates operating space.

Purchasers are asked to fill out an “application for registration” with a declaration that “ingesting cannabis has therapeutic benefits to my medical condition and my general state of well being that outweigh any health risks associated with it.”

Possession of a one-month supply of medicinal marijuana is legal in Canada for people who are terminally or chronically ill an who apply to Health canada for approval. About 900 people across Canada have been approved, but a legal source of medicinal marijuana remains a problem.

The model has similarities to that of the BC Compassion Club, an eight year old organisation that focuses on distributing cannabis to those that need it to treat symptoms of a medical condition, such as nausea and appetite loss caused by cancer treatment. Compassion Club founder Hilary Black said the club does not sell to anyone who asks.

“I would say we have more stringent requirements, and the other thing that makes us very different is that we provide health care,” she said Wednesday. “We have a complete wellness centre where we’re providing a whole range of holistic health care to our clients.”

She said the Compassion Club is able to exist largely because longstanding relationships with officials and lawmakers, and adds the organistation is sufficiently well established to differentiate itself from business like Da Kine.

However, she added that she understands what Da Kine is doing. “I think its really important for people to be able to access recreational cannabis in an above-board, clean environment. I do believe that what Da Kine is doing is a part of greater harm reduction program for this city.”

Coleman said it’s ironic that the city of Vancouver won’t allow spirits, or hard liquor in cold beer and wine stores and yet is willing to turn a blind eye to the open sale of marijuana from stores.

Gwilt took issue with remarks made Tuesday by tourism officials and the Vanncouver Board of Trade, who said the open sale of drugs is hurting the city’s tourism business.

“There are so many people that used to go to Amsterdam, and now they’re coming to Vancouver for this and people are moving to the area because they think it’s just fabulous and so progressive,” she said.

Topics: Articles | Comments Off

Comments are closed.