Cannabis Growers of Canada executive director Ian Dawkins spoke on CBC’s early edition this morning, as the City of Vancouver begins sending bylaw officers to start the process of shutting down many of the dispensaries that have been refused a business license.
Dawkins said, while the CGC isn’t encouraging the around 20 shops it represents in the city to stay open, the choice is being made by many as an act of civil disobedience in response to medical patients that depend on the shops’ services.
“There’s going to be, what, 30 [dispensaries] that have some kind of legal status to continue to operate and then there’s probably another 30 that are going to operate in some form of protest or another,” Dawkins said.
Dispensaries that choose to remain open after today, when the city has ordered the majority to shut down, will face fines from the city each day they remain in operation.
Dawkins said the issue will become the City of Vancouver against the right of medical patients to access medicinal cannabis.
“I don’t think the city has a legal leg to stand on,” Dawkins said. “At the end of the day, if you’re denying patients access to medical cannabis, that’s just a lawsuit against the city.”
City councillor Kerry Jang said the city expects to see a number of lawsuits due to closures but that it’s part of doing business, especially with charting a new path for legitimizing dispensaries.
Dawkins said instead of fining the shops, the city should put a moratorium on its declustering process that only allows one dispensary within 300 metres of another, despite being clear of other restricted zones such as schools, and also allow those stores waiting to appeal their rejection to remain open until their hearing at the Board of Variance.
“We can still shut down a lot of these dispensaries just by asking them to behave with very reasonable standards, because some of them aren’t, frankly, and we can move forward from there,” Dawkins said.