Pubdate: Thu, 11 Sep 2014
Source: Georgia Straight, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2014 The Georgia Straight
Author: Travis Lupick


THERE'S CONFUSION AT 12th and Cambie about how Vancouver should 
regulate its burgeoning market for medicinal marijuana, according to 
documents released in response to a Straight freedom of information request.

But one councillor appears to have taken a clear stance on cannabis. 
That's Vision Vancouver's Kerry Jang, who in March 2014 received a 
letter of gratitude for letting his position be known.

"As a non user I would like to personally thank you for your 
commitment to these patients and their right to their medicine," one 
citizen wrote. "Thank you for having a set of balls counsellor, they 
are much needed and appreciated." (The author's name is redacted in 
accordance with privacy laws.)

Jang has consistently opposed new federal rules for medicinal 
marijuana that require the drug only be distributed via mail order. 
Although storefront dispensaries are illegal in Canada, Jang-along 
with the Vancouver Police Department-has repeatedly stated that 
dispensaries do not meet law-enforcement agencies' criteria for 
"priority" targets.

Other emails included in the document release posed questions about 
whether or not storefronts require special licences from the city. 
Another asks how complaints about marijuana odour should be 
addressed. "Legal or not we don't regulate smells," a city property 
inspector wrote in response to the latter.

A third apparent area of confusion is raised in an email thread that 
includes city manager Penny Ballem. That correspondence concerns how 
one would acquire the necessary permissions to grow medicinal 
marijuana in a commercial greenhouse.

"This does go on and on and I can't really make head nor tail of it," 
Ballem wrote in September 2013. "Do want to understand what is going 
on can whoever is dealing with this get back to me".

There were about 40 storefront dispensaries operating in Vancouver as 
of May 2014, the documents state. Shop openings peaked in 2013 and 
then fell sharply through the first half of this year.

The Straight filed a freedom of information request with the VPD 
similar to the one it sent to the city that resulted in the release 
of the documents discussed here. The police department responded with 
a fee estimate of more than $6,160. That decision is being appealed.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom