Ottawa Blasts Vancouver’s Pot Shop Plans

CANADA:  The federal government drew battle lines with the City of Vancouver Thursday over the city’s plans to regulate marijuana dispensaries, saying they are dangerously close to legitimizing an illegal substance.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government said municipal governments have no authority to regulate and license businesses that sell pot.

“I am deeply concerned by reports that the City of Vancouver intends to discuss a proposal to regulate illegal drug dispensaries at an upcoming council meeting,” Health Minister Rona Ambrose told Mayor Gregor Robertson in a letter.

Vancouver’s growing sector of dispensaries goes beyond the federal government’s 2013 regulations on the sale of pot for medical purposes, Ambrose said. She dismissed City Manager Penny Ballem’s argument that the city is not seeking to regulate the drug itself and that federal rules have created a “grey zone” leading to an explosion of pot dispensaries.

 

Vancouver’s Booming Marijuana Retailers Could Face New Regulations

CANADA:  The City of Vancouver is looking at new rules to regulate the booming retail marijuana business, including a $30,000 licensing fee to help recover the cost of enforcement.

“In the last two years, the city has seen a rapid growth rate of 100 per cent per year in marijuana-related businesses … [going] from 60 to 80 in the last four months alone,” said a statement issued by the city.

While medical marijuana shops have become commonplace in Vancouver in recent years, there is little in the way of regulations to control them, the statement notes.

“Up to now there has been a lack of a clear and transparent regulatory framework from

4/20 Set To Smoke Out Vancouver For Annual Marijuana Event

CANADA:  Organizers are expecting a solid turnout of about 25,000 marijuana smokers and a record number of vendors at Monday’s annual downtown celebration and rally known as 4/20.

“Interest has been very big leading up to the day,” said event coordinator Jeremiah Vandermeer. “Our booths sold out in three days and we had to flex our muscles with the City to get more space.”

Vendors on the grounds of the Vancouver Art Gallery will be hawking all kinds of marijuana strains, hash and infused edibles, including — new this year — said Vandermeer, marijuana-infused slurpees.

The stalls will be set up in the morning and the crowd usually swells at about 3 p.m., said Vandermeer, adding that thousands of rolled joints will be tossed out for the traditional massive smoke session at 4:20 p.m.

Vancouver Pot Dispensary Opens Despite Anger

CANADA:  A controversial Vancouver marijuana dispensary has opened its doors, despite continued protest from neighbours.

People living at a high rise on the 16-hundred block of Hornby Street are not happy that Canada Bliss Herbal Society has moved in.

Maxine Clough says they won’t stop until the residents’ are heard.

“We’ve sent them a letter. We’ve asked them to please reconsider his tenant.”

 

Warning About Potentially Lethal Fentanyl In Marijuana Directed At Recreational Pot Users

CANADA:  Startling statistics on fentanyl-related overdoses and deaths have prompted police and health authorities to issue a public warning — particularly to recreational pot users.

Vancouver police Const. Sandra Glendinning — at a news conference Monday to highlight the lethal risks of the synthetic drug — said investigators are now finding fentanyl turning up in batches of seized marijuana.

She said city police will announce a major fentanyl ring has been busted on Tuesday, but didn’t provide any further details.

According to B.C. Coroners Service spokesman Vince Stancato, about 25 per cent of all overdose deaths in the province in 2014 involved the highly toxic fentanyl.

 

B.C. Patients Challenging Medical Marijuana Regime In Court

CANADA:  A lawyer representing four patients has told a Federal Court judge that Canada‘s new rules governing medical marijuana are forcing them to choose between their health and their liberty.

John Conroy launched a constitutional challenge on behalf of the patients, who argue the federal government violated their rights when it attempted to ban home growing and instead move production to commercial operations.

His clients say they can’t afford marijuana under the new system, which also doesn’t give them control over the specific strains they use.

Conroy has told a Federal Court judge that because the new regulations make marijuana production illegal, patients must choose between medicine and jail.

 

The Tim Hortons Of Cannabis: 63-Year-Old ‘King’ Seeks Franchisees To Grow His Marijuana Empire

CANADA:  This city has its own Prince of Pot, cannabis promoter Marc Emery. But he’s minor royalty next to Don Briere. Or Donald Joseph Briere, as he’s known inside the Canadian justice and penal systems. He was once this country’s most prolific marijuana producer and distributor, with 33 illegal growing operations hidden across B.C.

In the late 1990s, before an informant ratted them out to police, Mr. Briere and his cohorts were growing and selling two tonnes of pot annually. “That’s a lot of weed,” he laughs. “We were outlaws. My share was $5-million a year.”

He made B.C. bud famous. And he paid a price. Mr. Briere was convicted in 2001 on charges that included drug cultivation, possession for the purpose of trafficking and possession of a prohibited firearm. He was sentenced to four years in prison. While on parole in 2004, he was busted again, this time for running an illegal marijuana shop on Vancouver’s hipster high street, Commercial Drive. For that blatant infraction, he was convicted and sentenced to another 2.5 years behind bars.

Mr. Briere is now 63, and with all the legal hassles and two heart attacks behind him, one might think he’d have retirement in mind. Far from it. The irrepressible pot impresario is back in the marijuana trade, making his mark in retail.

Should Vancouver Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Be Zoned As Pharmacies?

CANADA:  There are many neighbourhoods in Vancouver where you can’t drive down the street without seeing medical marijuana dispensaries.

There are 60 of them in the city of Vancouver alone. However, under federal laws, dispensaries are illegal.

When Canada’s marijuana laws changed last year, the dispensaries remained illegal.

“We moved to a system whereby medical marijuana, the growing of marijuana for medical purposes, would be taken out of neighbourhoods,” said Parliamentary Secretary Paul Calandra on Global News BC1.

Vancouver’s Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Aren’t Getting Pot Legally

CANADA:  The dozens of pot dispensaries that have sprouted up in Vancouver over the last few years rely exclusively on illegal suppliers to keep their businesses going because they have no legal means of obtaining medical marijuana.

The Vancouver Police Department is operating under the assumption that many of the city’s marijuana dispensaries are obtaining their pot from people with Health Canada licences to grow small amounts for personal use, said Sgt. Randy Fincham.

“Somehow, they’re getting rid of their marijuana, and somehow the stores at the street level are obtaining their marijuana. The stores don’t have a licence to buy and the homes don’t have a licence to sell,” Fincham said. “It appears that it’s becoming a lucrative business arrangement.”

The B.C. Compassion Club Society only gets its marijuana from trusted growers, said spokeswoman Jamie Shaw, but the arrangement is “not at all” legal.

Medical Marijuana Easily ‘Dispensed’ In Vancouver

CANADA:  Marijuana is being openly sold in specialty stores in Vancouver under the guise of a government-approved system meant to limit sales for medical use only, a documentary by the CBC’s fifth estate shows.

Medical marijuana has been legally sold in Canada since 2001 under strict government guidelines and only under authorization from a physician.

But the fifth estate’s Mark Kelley found that in Vancouver these days the drug is readily available in medical marijuana dispensaries, where a quick consultation with a nurse or a naturopath gets people a membership and access to as much marijuana as they want.