Issue to be discussed June 12; argument advanced that current cannabis policy for the area is misunderstood
Vancouver city council is exploring the idea of loosening regulations around retail cannabis sales in the Downtown Eastside region, which currently has no licensed cannabis dispensaries.
The city is currently only granting retail licences to applicants on Main or Hastings streets, but amending policy would open up applications to more street locations in the area.
Considered a ‘gritty’ neighbourhood, the motion to revise governing rules for Downtown Eastside cannabis retail discusses the benefits of cannabis as an alternative to harder substances, a move that it is hoped could potentially help at-risk populations stay off street drugs.
There are currently four applications going through the provincial process for a retail permit:
- 529 E Hastings Street (Hastings and Jackson);
- 151 E Hastings Street (Hastings between Main and Columbia);
- 369 Columbia Street (Hastings and Columbia) and;
- 231 Abbott Street (Abbott and Cordova).
The location at Columbia and Abbott streets, if approved, could be legal on the provincial level, but in violation of city council’s current policy for the area. The zone has been referred to as an ‘exclusion zone’, a term that Kathryn Holm, Vancouver’s chief licence inspector, is not a correct categorization, she told Business in Vancouver.
“It’s been incorrectly presented, and incorrectly understood,” Kathryn Holm. “It is not an exclusion zone, and that is how it is being described, and that is not true.”
The vote comes about a week after the only cannabis dispensary in the Downtown Eastside was forced to close in line with a ruling by B.C.’s Court of Appeal. Dana Larsen, who chose to keep his Downtown Eastside location open, but stopped cannabis sales to stay compliant, says in a tweet that his Downtown Westide location had customers lined out the door since closing the East Hastings location.
The city council vote was originally scheduled for June 11, 2019, but was rescheduled due to an amendment in the motion. Councillors are scheduled to meet this evening to decide whether or not to allow dispensary locations in Downtown Eastside outside of the Main St. and Hastings St. locations.
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