Monday, November 21, 2005

So where can you go

So, where can you go to get good weed in Vancouver?

Nowhere and anywhere.
You can get some famous BC Bud on pretty much any block in town but you always take many chances in doing that.  Marijuana is still illegal and unregulated.   There are enough pot smokers in this city to warrant liquor store sized bud depots but there are none.  Unregulated retail marijuana outlets exist but they do it covertly and at risk of persecution.    
The production, distribution and sale of cannabis consistently generate billions of dollars into the BC economy.   Police budgets and organized crime profits soar while funding to critical programs and services get cut.

While we wait for the federal government to act on implementing safer and saner drug policies, Vancouver and other British Columbia taxpayers are burdened by the substantial costs of investigating, arresting, prosecuting and jailing people for charges involving marijuana.    Marijuana prohibition has been found to be unsuccessful at reducing the use of marijuana and unsuccessful at reducing the supply of marijuana.  It has resulted in a climate in which the sale of marijuana takes place in a wholly unregulated manner.  Marijuana prohibition has been determined to cause significantly more harm to society than the use of the plant.

The only logical alternative to marijuana prohibition is to regulate the conditions under which cannabis sales occur in order to protect citizens from the adverse impacts of irresponsible cannabis distribution, storage, and use practices.   Regulations can be implemented through “Licensed cannabis retail establishments” -business establishments that have been licensed by the City – a step the City of Vancouver is ready to take and is urging the rest of Canada to take as well.  

From the Draft Plan - Preventing Harm from Psychoactive Substance Use, passed by Vancouver city council November 3rd, 2005:
THAT the Mayor on behalf of Council write to the Prime Minister, Government of Canada and the appropriate Ministers urging the Federal Government to consider the creation of a legal regulatory framework for cannabis that will enable municipalities and local health regions to develop comprehensive cannabis strategies that: promote public health objectives, include appropriate regulatory controls for cannabis related products, support the development of public education approaches to cannabis use and minimize the involvement of organized crime in the cannabis market. (Recommendation 23 – Preventing Harm from Psychoactive Substance Use)
Appropriate regulatory controls and performance standards are necessary from the beginning to establish a consistent and fair approach to licensing establishments wishing to sell cannabis.  The draft regulatory plan detailed here addresses such factors as security, odor control, and accessibility to minors.  

Regulations for Retail Cannabis Establishments

Establishments shall be at least five hundred (500) feet from a public elementary, middle, or high school.

Establishments shall be located in appropriate commercial districts within the city and subject to the same license requirements and land use restrictions as other lawful businesses in the city.

Establishments shall meet the following operational and safety standards for the duration of the use:
  1. Distribution to Minors Prohibited.  Establishments and each member thereof, shall not sell, barter, give away, or otherwise distribute cannabis to any minor.  Minor being under 18 years of age.

  1. Good Conduct.  It is unlawful for any person or association operating an establishment to permit any breach of peace therein or any disturbance of public order or decorum by any tumultuous, riotous, or disorderly conduct.

  1. No Liquor Licenses.  Establishments shall not hold or maintain a license from the Province of British Columbia to sell alcoholic beverages.

  1. No Illegal Drugs.  Establishments shall not permit the use or sale of any illegal substances and shall prominently post a notice that no illegal drug use or sales are permitted in the establishment.

  2. Security.  Establishments shall provide adequate security on the premises, including lighting and alarms, to insure the safety of persons and to help protect the premises from theft.

  1. Contact Information.  Establishments shall provide city officials and all neighbors located within 100 feet of the establishment with the name, phone number and facsimile number of (1) an on-site community relations staff person to whom one can provide notice if there are operating problems associated with the establishment; and, (2) a staff person that is available during the hours that the establishment is not open.

  1. Odors.  Establishments should have sufficient ventilation and storage facilities in order to minimize any odor outside the establishment.

  1. Accessibility and Accommodations. Establishments shall be wheelchair accessible and disability accommodations shall be provided upon request.

  1. Smoking Bylaw.  Establishments shall comply with all municipal, federal and provincial regulations respecting the smoking of tobacco products.  

  1. No Advertising.  Establishments shall not advertise the fact that cannabis is sold and/or used on the premises.