Andy McKay

Jun 15, 2011

Medical Marijuana Dispensary

A few weeks ago a medical marijuana dispensary was proposed just around the corner from our house. In response the District of North Vancouver proposed a bylaw that is:

prohibiting the use of land, building or structures for the retail sale, distribution, or dispensing of marijuana except by persons authorized under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, Health Canada Medical Marijuana Access Regulations, and other federal legislation

This would kill the opening of the dispensary. Tonight there was a meeting to cover the bylaw and the dispensary at the District offices and just the second planning meeting I've attended. There was standing room only in the meeting. The meeting started at 7pm. At 9pm after about 20 speakers I headed home, there were another 20 speakers to go. This was is what passes for controversy in Deep Cove.

At the risk of gross over simplification here's how I saw the camps.

Pro: medical uses

There were a series of talks from users of medical marijuana. They provided moving and at times very emotional stories about how it's helped them and their loved ones overcome physical and mental issues.

Pro: dispensaries are good

The pro dispensary and compassion club came out in force from around the Lower Mainland to help out. Clearly people who've lobbied before on behalf of this. I think a few local residents found this a bit annoying, but they raised some excellent points. For example dispensaries in Maple Ridge:

Maple Ridge Mayor Ernie Daykin said aside from the initial furor about the opening of the dispensary, he's received no complaints about the facility during the year it's been open.
A spokesperson for Ridge Meadows RCMP said there's no evidence the dispensary is a problem in Maple Ridge.

Maple Ridge Times

The general consensus and evidence is that dispensaries do not cause any of the problems that opponents claim. Why is the District behaving with this knee jerk reaction to such a place?

Con: legal

The dispensary is in a grey area. Others admit this, yet dispensaries still operate all across Canada.

Con: the fud

There's not enough police. There's too many schools nearby, without any direct statement as to why this is a problem, guess we have to fill in the blanks. Extra points for the lady who mentioned a "pot shop". Traffic, because this will somehow get more traffic than a hardware shop.

I saw one ladies piece of paper and it had the words "drug dealers" written on it and underlined.

One point that I thought had the merit was the simple point of location. Deep Cove is a spectacularly bad location to be accessible from across the North Shore. Lonsdale or Marine Drive would be more suitable.


I support the dispensary, I see it being no more dangerous than a pub, liquor store or pharmacy and probably better regulated. Buying marijuana illegally in the area is not difficult and the dispensary won't make it any more or less available to kids in the area. Quoting one 18 year old:

I could leave this meeting and be back within an hour with a bag of pot. Way easier than trying to get it from the dispensary.

In the meantime I'll return to my drug of choice - fine single malt scotch and continue watching season 2 of Weeds.