Fight to keep dispensaries open in Vancouver provides lessons for UK cannabis clubs

Politics

Sensible BC director Dana Larsen is fighting to keep 29 dispensaries in Vancouver open which are not licensed by the provincial government.

City of Vancouver officials are pressuring dispensaries to close and three Cannabis Culture locations have already shut down.

In an email to the group’s supporters, Larsen states that medical patients are finding it more difficult to access cannabis now than before weed was legalised last October.

“The need for medical cannabis dispensaries has not diminished,” he says.

Larsen is asking that 1,000 people email or phone Mayor Kennedy Stewart, Green councillor Adriane Carr, and NPA councillor Rebecca Bligh over the next two weeks to express their support for holding off on police raids and allowing dispensaries to sell medical cannabis.

“Despite the risk, I have decided to keep my dispensaries open, as have several other dispensaries,” Larsen says. “City officials have been threatening to forcibly close our doors at the end of January. We’re not sure what’s going to happen.”

Larsen is not against the legal licensing system, but he points out that there is not presently enough legal cannabis to meet demand.

“They’re saying it could be three years until there’s enough licensed growers for the legal market to work! Patients can’t wait that long.”

In Larsen’s email, he also mentions that the town of Gibsons on the Sunshine Coast has allowed a dispensary to operate for another year even though it hasn’t been licensed by the province.

UKCSC chairman Greg de Hoedt commented that Larsen’s struggle provides lessons for the cannabis club movement here, saying: “We have to keep looking ahead of us at what is happening with our community in Canada.

“The dispensaries are the cannabis social clubs of the future in the UK. Where our clubs are seeing a growing acceptance by the public and authorities that they act as a first point of contact for cannabis consumers and fight on the frontline of the drug war while the Government rolls out a farcical medical cannabis system we could be in for a similar fate down the line when the big brands in cannabis finally get their tendrils into the recreational market here.

“It’s important that clubs in the UK come together to build unity and strength to ensure our survival. We operate in a grey area at the moment like the Canadian dispensaries have been for over a decade. It’s important we use our community to bring about the ingredients needed that help our acceptance spread more and allow the local authorities to work alongside us to achieve the benefits that cannabis social clubs can deliver to local communities and British society at large.

“We would like to send our support to Dana Larsen and the other dispensary owners still braving operating under the ‘legalisation’ they fought for that doesn’t want them to exist.”

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