stepping stone
Stepping Stone Holistic Living, a cannabis dispensary on Kingsway, was robbed at gunpoint by 2 masked men just after 5 pm on Sunday, Jan. 27.

Man shot during armed robbery at East Vancouver dispensary Stepping Stone Holistic Living

Stepping Stone Holistic Living, a cannabis dispensary on Kingsway, was robbed at gunpoint by 2 masked men just after 5 pm on Sunday, Jan. 27.

During the robbery, a male bystander, who the Vancouver Police Department called a customer, was shot, and the 32-year-old man was taken to hospital with “non-life-threatening injuries”. According to a witness, he was shot in the leg, and authorities did not confirm whether the suspects successfully stole any products or money.

The Vancouver Police Department is looking for the 2 suspects in what it called a “brazen robbery”, and is asking anyone with information to call the “Major Crime Unit at (604)-717-2541 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477”.

Check out the tweet below.


Is Stepping Stone a ‘holistic store’ or ‘illegal cannabis dispensary’?

The most interesting part of the VPD’s tweet is how it describes Stepping Stone not as a cannabis dispensary, but a “holistic store”- which is the same way that the business refers to itself! In fact, the word ‘cannabis’ does not appear at all in the previously-referenced VPD statement.

Other reports were not so kind. While Global News pointed out that Stepping Stone “is not on the list of dispensaries the City of Vancouver has granted licenses to”, CTV straight out called it an “illegal marijuana dispensary”.

The funny thing is, they’re all true, which shows how important word choice can be when reporting on cannabis.

If you were told, without any other context, that people armed with guns entered a dispensary and took cannabis and money- you might it was a robbery. But that limited description could just as easily described a police raid.

Stepping Stone Holistic has stayed lowkey about the incident and the manager declined to comment when asked by news outlets, but in a Jan. 27 Facebook post, the store’s first post of 2019, it acknowledged a “police incident” while assuring customers it will be open the next day.

Why is the VPD taking such a soft approach?

Given the recent BC Supreme Court ruling that ordered Vancouver’s unlicensed dispensaries to close, you might think the VPD would jump at the chance to do a bit of fear-mongering about the dangers of black market dispensaries but surprisingly, this has not happened so far.

One reason for this could be that the VPD is waiting until the Community Safety Unit (CSU) is fully operational before initiating the crackdown on unlicensed dispensaries like Stepping Stone Holistic Living as part of a PR strategy, since it will soon be the Community Safety Unit’s responsibility to enforce BC’s cannabis laws.

Perhaps the VPD is waiting for that moment, and it’s coming a lot faster than you might think. According to the Vancouver Sun, the CSU is projected to be ready this Spring.


Featured image courtesy of Stepping Stone Holistic Living.


Global News: Bystander shot during armed robbery of Kingsway holistic store.


Vancouver Sun: B.C.’s marijuana cops not yet ready for action.