Marijuana Legalization: What Will Happen to Vancouver’s Pot Shops?

Article by Wanyee Li, Metro News

The fate of pot shops in Vancouver depend on the provincially set pricing of cannabis and whether it will help cities enforce marijuana laws, say experts. Camden Lowrie has worked at The Medical Cannabis Dispensary for five years and says many customers have already come in with questions about the federal government legalizing marijuana.

Pot shop experts and a local city councillor are applauding the federal government for setting a date for marijuana legalization but warn its success rests on marijuana prices and provincial funding.

The federal government announced Sunday night it will introduce legislation to legalize marijuana in April and that the law would come into effect no later than Canada Day 2018.

But dozens of pot shops in the city operate in a legal grey area and experts say their fate is uncertain in light of the upcoming legalization.

One marijuana dispensary manager says customers are already coming in with questions about the decision.

“There are lots of concerns raised by people. The biggest one is people are afraid the price is going to fluctuate,” said Camden Lowrie, who has worked at The Medical Cannabis Dispensary in Vancouver for five years.

 Marijuana pricing will fall under the provincial jurisdiction, according to the federal government.

“If the [provincial government] is serious about getting rid of dispensaries or taking over the market, they will have to have a much lower price. If legal marijuana can be sold for $3, $4 per gram or less, that can be very effective in competing with dispensaries,” said long-time pot advocate Dana Larsen.

“But if their price is high, people will keep participating in the black market as well.”

Larsen is the director of The Vancouver Dispensary Society, a non-profit that runs two marijuana dispensaries in the city, including the store where Lowrie works. That locations sell cannabis at about $10 per gram or less, he said.

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