Pubdate: Tue, 26 Apr 2016
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Copyright: 2016 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: Dan Fumano
Page: A2


In the final days before the City of Vancouver's deadline for 
unsuccessful marijuana dispensary applicants to shut down, some 
rejected shop owners said they plan to stay open and "stick to their guns."

B.C. Pain Society owner Chuck Varabioff was one of 176 who applied 
last year for a dispensary licence. Then, he was one of 62 rejected 
applicants to appeal to Vancouver's board of variance, and in 
February, his appeal was one of the first heard.

The appeal was unsuccessful, and Varabioff received a 60-day notice 
from the city advising him to close his Commercial Drive operation by Friday.

But, he said Monday: "I'm operating now, I'm going to be operating 
Sunday, I'm going to be operating next week, and I'm going to be 
operating on Christmas Day."

Varabioff said city employees told him he could expect bylaw fines 
for operating without a business licence.

"They wouldn't tell me how much (the fines will be), but if they want 
to come in, I will hand them 30 post-dated cheques for the next month 
and I'll pay my fines," he said.

Cannabis advocate Jodie Emery said: "I'm pretty sure that a lot of 
(the dispensaries) are going to refuse to close. Even though there is 
a deadline date of the 29th, a lot of them will remain open because 
they feel protected by court orders and decisions in the past."

The board of variance is scheduled to hear dozens of additional 
appeals from rejected owners between now and November.

Eggs Canna's hearing is set for July 27, and owner Oana Nicoara said 
she doesn't want to battle city hall. But she's "between a rock and a 
hard place," she said, and hopes to stay open for the next three 
months while she awaits her appeal hearing.

"If we're not a danger to the public ... I think the city should at 
least allow us to have our day in court," Nicoara said.

Suspending operations for three months would likely put Eggs Canna 
out of business, Nicoara said.

"If bylaw officers show up and they're going to ticket us, we're 
prepared to take on the fines," she said. Based on what Nicoara has 
heard from the Cannabis Growers of Canada, an organization 
representing about 20 Vancouver dispensaries, she said: "I think the 
general consensus is we're going to kind of all stick together, and 
we're going to stick to our guns on this."

So far, the city has approved seven development permits and is 
reviewing an additional 15 applications.

Lindsay Bell, manager of West 4th Avenue's Buddha Barn, said the 
store's management were "superhappy" to be one of the first 
dispensaries to receive a development permit.

But, Bell said, they're not celebrating the other dispensaries' 
rejections, even though Buddha Barn will welcome their customers 
"with open arms."

"We'll definitely be getting a bit busier, which is nice as well. We 
don't mind that," Bell said.

Recently, new customers have visited Buddha Bar reporting that their 
previous dispensary has either shut down or warned them of impending 
closure, Bell said.

Some dispensary owners plan to cease operation this week to comply 
with the deadline, said Ian Dawkins, executive director of the 
Cannabis Growers of Canada. That includes Cannpassion, a fouryear-old 
dispensary on Kingsway, whose owner Dawkins described as "probably 
the most ethical, the most transparent, with the best business 
practices of my members."

Cannpassion's owner will close this Thursday, Dawkins said, to be in 
compliance with the deadline.

CGC members "are torn between needing to help their patients and 
wanting to follow the law," Dawkins said.

"All of them want to play by the rules, all of them want to be good 
corporate citizens. But they're also protecting patients."

- - with a file from Rafe Arnott



Most Vancouver voters, across age groups, income levels and gender 
lines, approve of marijuana dispensaries, according to a new opinion 
poll. About two-thirds of Vancouver voters approve of pot shops in 
the city, said the study, which was independently conducted by Forum 
Research of Toronto. Forum president Lorne Bozinoff said Monday the 
results show "widespread acceptance" for dispensaries in Vancouver. 
About a quarter of respondents oppose dispensaries in Vancouver, 
while nine per cent said they don't have an opinion. Support for 
dispensaries skewed slightly younger, Bozinoff said, but "there's not 
a huge, huge difference by age. ... Even the 65-year-olds, they're on 
board." Likewise, a majority of Vancouver voters approve of 
dispensaries, across every income level. "It just proves how 
widespread this idea is," Bozinoff said. "There are questions about 
the number (of dispensaries), but just about everybody is fine with 
the concept."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom