Pubdate: Mon, 21 Mar 2016
Source: Capilano Courier, The (CN BC Edu)
Copyright: 2016 The Capilano Courier
Author: Tomas Danco


Opening the Doors of Vancouver's Pot Dispensaries

If you ask a tourist what things come to mind when they think of 
Vancouver, the most common responses will almost certainly contain: 
beautiful mountains, oceanside strolls, craft beer, yoga tights, East 
Van and marijuana. Just as evident as climate change, the medical 
marijuana business has boomed in recent years. Last June, the Globe 
and Mail reported that the number of medical marijuana dispensaries 
now exceeds the number of Starbucks locations in Vancouver, a clear 
sign that the population has its priorities set on a more open-minded 
and alternative form of regulation and healthcare.

For a closer look at the day-to-day operations of a medical marijuana 
dispensary, I elected to visit one myself. That's where I met Josh Martinovic.

Martinovic first began working at The Healing Tree a year-and-a-half 
ago as a budtender. Similarly to a bartender, a budtender supplies 
his or her customers with the products that they desire. Furthermore, 
a budtender provides recommendations to the customer on the type of 
marijuana strain best suited to alleviate their ailments. Now he 
manages the facility, located on Hastings Street just a couple of 
blocks up from Main.

"[We] get all sorts of folk coming in to the dispensary," he said, 
adding that daily visits include people all the way from the world of 
business and suits, to the underprivileged residents of the Downtown 
Eastside. "It doesn't matter who you are... or what social class you 
come from, marijuana is enjoyable... and helpful for you medicinally."

Due to the sheer volume hours spent physically exerting oneself, some 
of the more common customers include labourers and trades workers. 
For sore muscles, joint pains and arthritis, Martinovic recommends 
indica dominant strains. Upon intake, an indica strain tends to 
produce the sought-after muscle relaxation of the "body high." These 
type of strains are theorized to be rich in cannabidiol, or CBD for 
short. Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, CBD does not induce any 
psychoactive effects on the mind. In other words, strains with 
increased CBD content provide the user with the same medicinal 
benefits as a THC-rich strain, hence enabling the user to proceed 
about their day as usual without any mind-altering effects.

Having grown up in Deep Cove, let's just say I'm accustomed to the 
smell of marijuana. Immediately upon entrance into the dimly lit 
shop, a plethora of familiar sensations washed over me. A wave of 
concentrated marijuana scents wafted down the corridor as I walked 
towards the customer interaction window. After a brief introduction, 
Martinovic invited me to the back of the counter where we set up for 
the interview. Beneath the clear glass stood numerous glass jars 
filled to the brim with fresh buds of all sorts. He told me that 
smoking weed was not just about the act itself, but rather the 
experience associated with it. It is essentially a culture in its own 
right, one that is not constricted by the typical social laws with 
which we are governed by.

In a city as colourful and vibrant as Vancouver, it is important to 
note that even under the fire of the previous government, the people 
of the city chose to act on their own progressive beliefs. 
Nonetheless, marijuana remains an illegal substance that is 
categorized under Schedule 2 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances 
Act. The possession, production, distribution and recreational use of 
marijuana are still deemed illegal activities.

In a Sep. 2015 report to the Vancouver Police Board, Doug LePard, 
deputy chief constable of the Commanding Investigation Division 
stated that "Selling marijuana from a storefront dispensary... 
constitutes the offence of 'Trafficking' under the Controlled Drugs 
and Substances Act." However, The Vancouver Police Department 
continues to treat Vancouver's medical marijuana dispensaries with an 
open-minded enforcement policy. Simply put, "Using the criminal law 
to close marijuana dispensaries is generally ineffective," wrote Le Pard.

Instead of coming down with an iron fist, in June 2015 the City of 
Vancouver rose to lead the nation in being the first Canadian city to 
license and regulate medical marijuana dispensaries.

In an issue that is portrayed both positively and negatively in the 
media, it is clear to see that the end result has brought the people 
closer to the government, further solidifying Vancouver's position in 
world opinion as a progressive city.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom