Vancouver Dispensaries wait for Ottawa’s Marijuana Regulations with Cautious Optimism

Article by Travis Lupick, The Georgia Straight

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Vancouver dispensary owners are anxious about the federal government’s plan to legalize recreational marijuana but confident the process will eventually be to their benefit.

“We’ve sat with the federal task force and apparently made some really good impressions there,” Jeremy Jacob, president of the Canadian Association of Medical Cannabis Dispensaries (CAMCD), told the Georgia Straight.

“Anne McLellan, the chair of the task force, she spent three hours at the Vancouver Compassion Club,” Jacob recounted. “And she came out saying, ‘How are we going to regulate these shops?’ And according to Mark Ware, the vice chair, he said that certain members of the task force had life-changing experiences while visiting dispensaries.”

Last June, Health Minister Jane Philpott announced that the Liberal government will table legislation to legalize and regulate the distribution and sale of recreational marijuana in the spring of 2017. For Vancouver storefronts selling cannabis—which remain illegal under federal law but are regulated by the city—the million-dollar question is whether or not the new rules will permit them to remain open.

Jacob, who co-owns the Village Dispensary in Kitsilano, told the Straight that a win for businesses like his would not necessarily see Ottawa specifically say that storefronts can continue to operate but that rules for distribution can be left up to provincial governments, similar to how liquor sales are governed.

“What we believe is that the provinces will be given the right to set their own distribution models,” Jacob said. “We understand that most provinces are going to go to a liquor-store and pharmacy model. But what we understand is that B.C. is going to be a unique case in Canada.”

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