Dana Larsen on Fighting for Vancouver’s Dispensaries: Court Cases, Injunctions, Exclusion Zones, and Outdated Bylaws

Article by Mike O, Cannabis Life Network


CLN caught up with prominent cannabis activist Dana Larsen for an update on Vancouver’s unlicensed dispensaries and their ongoing fight to stay open.

Dana also told us why he thinks the City of Vancouver should rewrite it’s restrictive cannabis bylaws, why the dispensary exclusion zone in the Downtown Eastside is misguided and wrong, the ongoing battle of Vancouver’s unlicensed dispensaries to stay open

CLN: Can you tell me about what’s going on with the dispensary test case?

Dana Larsen: The last I’d heard was that we’d be hearing back by the end of May on the decision. Although we can’t guarantee anything, I think we have a pretty good chance on getting a stay on things that will hopefully stop any enforcement actions from the City against the dispensaries until the case is heard in the Court of Appeal, which could be another year or more.

So you’ll learn soon if the stay on enforcement will be successful or not?

At the BC Supreme Court, we have a case between about two dozen dispensaries and the City of Vancouver, and we were asking two questions of the court.

One of the questions was whether a city like Vancouver even has the power to write bylaws and regulate an activity that is otherwise illegal and the courts said yes, it does.

We also asked whether the legal system was meeting patient’s needs and whether dispensaries still had a legal basis to exist for medical access to cannabis. The BC Supreme Court didn’t rule on that question, leaving it open.

But because of that ruling, the City has the power to go and enforce against us and to also seek an injunction, which they’ve had the power to do since December although they haven’t actually done that yet.

So at the BC Court of Appeal, we are saying let’s look at this medical question again. The BC Supreme Court didn’t rule on it, and our first question was:

“Which is going to cause more harm- closing dispensaries down in the midst of the opioid crisis while we have this ongoing case over medical access, or keeping them open and letting things continue as they have for many years?”.

I think it’s a pretty compelling argument since we’ve been open for so long that it makes more sense to let us remain open until the legal questions are resolved, than to close us down prematurely.

So we’ll get a ruling on that question at the end of May.

If that ruling is favorable, it means there shouldn’t be any more enforcement from the city against these dispensaries until the case is resolved, so that could be another year in the Court of Appeal. The decision that comes out of that could go to the Supreme Court of Canada if anybody wanted to appeal the decision of the Court of Appeal… but that’s a long way away.

Studies have shown that cannabis, instead of being a gateway drug, can actually be an exit drug that helps people quit more dangerous substances like opioids.

Read the full article here.

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