Article by Mike O, Cannabis Life Network
Dana Larsen, the owner of The Medicinal Cannabis Dispensary, told CLN why his dispensary will remain open despite a recent BC Supreme Court ruling that ordered his and a few dozen other dispensaries closed.
He also talks about the next steps the dispensaries are taking in their battle for survival, which includes appealing the BC Supreme Court decision and requesting a stay, and he also corrects some common misperceptions, like what the media got wrong about the Jan. 31 deadline to close.
CLN: Do you have any updates on the dispensary test case?
Dana Larsen: Absolutely. The decision that was given by the BC Supreme Court judge was not really complete because he kind of skipped a big part of the issue.
We went before the judge asking for clarification on two issues.
The first was whether a city like Vancouver had the right to issue licenses and regulate dispensaries that are violating the law, and the answer was yes, they do have that ability- which is interesting because it opens up the city to be able to license other harm-reduction places if they want, even if the harm-reduction places are violating federal law… so that’s actually good in some ways.
But in the broader and more important issue of medical cannabis access and whether the current system was working and whether dispensaries still had a role to play in meeting patient needs.. The judge didn’t rule on that and somewhat sidestepped that very important question.
So on Jan. 9, we filed an appeal of that decision in the BC Court of Appeal and we also requested a stay against the injunction that is trying to shut us down.
The Supreme Court judge had put an injunction in place forbidding us from operating and the city could go back to that judge and say, “Look, these places are still open and they’re in contempt of court, do you want to take action?”.
We want a stay on that until this issue is resolved and so the question for the appeal court judge is whether the potential harm of shutting down all these dispensaries is greater than the harm of letting them continue operating until these questions are resolved in the court.
We are cautiously optimistic that the judge will agree with that logic and put a stay on this injunction until this question of medical cannabis access has been resolved.
So are the same dispensaries that were involved in the previous test case also involved in the appeal?
The test case covered dispensaries that were generally unable to get a permit because of restrictive bylaws that the city put in place, but they were still operating, which includes one of two locations of The Medicinal Cannabis Dispensary, along with a few other dispensaries, and as far as I can see so far we’re all a part of this appeal.
I know that Cannabis Culture, for instance, has announced the closing of three of its locations, but they are still interested in appealing and moving forward.
Will The Medicinal Cannabis Dispensary stay open?
We’re not shutting down and we’re going to continue patients as we have for the last 10 years but we’re still getting it all together and talking to the other dispensaries as we formulate our legal plan.