While Toronto has recently overtaken Vancouver as the cannabis capital of the country, the boom of the cannabis industry, known as the ‘Green Rush” is expanding beyond just the major cities. The city of Nelson, BC is one area that has seen a sudden rise in cannabis dispensaries.
The city has a history of illegal cannabis activity, but the the activity these days is primarily from dispensaries setting up retail locations openly. With a population of around 10,000, has seen two new shops open this month which brings the total to seven or eight with the police and city officials giving slightly different counts.
One of the owners of these shops is Howie Ross, who is a part owner of Leaf Health Society, and he says he followed the law for the entire process of opening and running the dispensary. “Our goal is to do everything as above-board as possible. We’ve spent months talking to Nelson city police and their biggest concern is that there is no gang activity and we don’t sell to youth. That’s easy for us,” Ross said.
Nelson Mayor Deb Kozar has echoed the same sentiment that Toronto Mayor John Tory that the dispensaries are operating in an unfettered environment. “We’re really anxious about the federal government moving on regulating the product. Right now it certainly feels like the Wild West,” Mayor Kozar said.
The police in Nelson sent an undercover officer in to attempt to buy cannabis without a medical card, and since he was refused, they have decided to let the operations continue until the legal matter is settled federally. Police spokesperson Nate Holt says “We used to have legislation we could point to in the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act which specifically says it is illegal to sell this substance,” said Holt. “However recent case law has said that we kind of wait to see if that is going to be the trend, or legislation that is in place.”
The industry is still booming in spite of legal haziness and crackdowns by major cities such as Vancouver and Toronto. More cities in B.C. will likely see an increase in dispensaries as well, which leaves a separate way to deal with them for each city and municipality.