Dana Larsen at the Save Our Dispensaries event outside Vancouver City Hall on Feb. 1, 2019.

Protest to Save Vancouver’s Dispensaries held at City Hall

On Feb. 1, the Save Our Dispensaries protest went down at Vancouver City Hall as the city’s unlicensed dispensaries continue their fight to stay open.

The crowd of dedicated cannabis activists braved the February cold and rain, getting their message out via megaphone and signs like “Fuck LP’s They Just Want Money” and “It’s Legal. End Pot Arrests Now”.

Dana Larsen, owner of The Medicinal Cannabis Dispensary, explained why they were protesting when he said:

“We are here today to protest this dispensary crackdown that’s coming and to ask Vancouver City Council to reopen and revisit their dispensary bylaws.

This is absolutely the wrong time to be launching a crackdown of local community dispensaries, many of which have been serving patients for 10 years or more.

When he said it was the wrong time to launch a crackdown on dispensaries, Dana was referring to the opioid crisis and how the City of Vancouver is ignoring the critical role that cannabis can play in harm reduction.

Only 2 legal recreational cannabis stores have opened in Vancouver in the months since legalization, which raises serious questions of patient access when medical cannabis users’ only option is the same mail order system Health Canada has had for almost two decades.

One program that takes the harm reduction strategy to heart is the Cannabis Substitution Project. It’s run by Neil Magnuson, who has been giving out cannabis care packages to opioid users in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside twice a week for two years, in the hopes that they use cannabis instead of potentially deadly opioids.

Jeremiah, the CEO of Cannabis Culture, added that because edibles, topicals, and extracts are not legal yet, hurt and sick people are being deprived of the medicine they drastically need.

Members and employees of The Medicinal Cannabis Dispensary and WEEDS Glass and Gifts were at the protest showing their support, and while those dispensaries have stayed open, many of the city’s other unlicensed dispensaries have shut down, like when Cannabis Culture announced the closure of its last 3 dispensaries in Vancouver back in early January.

Jodie Emery said:

“It’s exhausting to be told, ‘stop complaining, it’s legal’, when there’s more harm and less access than ever before”.

She also talked about the huge difference between “refuses to get licensed and “refused a license” on Twitter, saying:

“Medical #cannabis dispensaries facing arrests & jail if they don’t close down aren’t refusing to get licensed — they apply & get refused.

There’s no justification for this #NewProhibition.”


Sign the Petition to Save Our Dispensaries here.