Pubdate: Wed, 12 Oct 2016
Source: Province, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2016 Postmedia Network Inc.
Authors: John Colebourn & Brian Morton
Page: 3


EAST VANCOUVER: Activists running dispensary on city-owned land claim
'constitutional right' to be there

"We're here, we're high and we aren't going away."

With those words, pot-purveyor Bruce Myers explains the sudden
emergence of a marijuana dispensary operating like an old-fashioned
fruit stand on the southeast corner of Renfrew and Hastings streets in
East Vancouver.

Myers, 55, of Surrey said the popup pot tent and table complete with
scales, bongs, pipes, grinders, papers and blowtorches was first moved
onto the City of Vancouver-owned property in August to coincide with
the PNE. They plan on keeping the stand running 24-7 right through
until the Fright Night Halloween attraction is over across the street
at the PNE.

That won't go over too well with the neighbours, most of whom said
Tuesday that they're stunned the city or police haven't moved to shut
it down.

"This is the third time they've been there and I think it's nonsense,"
said Ray Wesley, who lives several blocks away from the stand. "I just
wonder why the police aren't getting them out of there. People are
completely dumbfounded."

Others walking by Tuesday said much the same thing, noting there are
several schools nearby. One woman said that walking by with her two
small kids getting pot blown in their faces "is not

Jennie Hogan, who lives a block-and-a-half-away in the 2800-block
Pender with her family, including a 13-year-old daughter and a
10-year-old son, said she's shocked by the situation, adding "it takes
away from our safe, community feel."

"We're not happy with this whatsoever. It's not positive to have pot
plants at the corner of our street (and) our kids walk by that corner
every day going to school. I don't know how they're pulling it off.
Why aren't they just shut down?"

However, nearby resident Stewart Cook, who was smoking a joint about a
block from the stand as his partner Zoe and infant daughter sat beside
him, said he's happy with the stand.

"I smoke weed," said Cook. "It helped me recover from

Myers likens the pop-up dispensary to the summertime fruit and
vegetable stand that opens up for a day or two. In the parking lot,
Myers and his rag-tag group of pot sellers and pro-marijuana activists
run a generator to provide power so they can play music and keep the
stand open non-stop. A small camper van is parked behind the stand and
Myers said they sleep in it to get some rest as they rotate staff to
meet the steady demand.

Since the tent and tables can be packed up and moved in a matter of
minutes, Myers said they don't have any paperwork to be their legally.
"The city as far as I'm concerned can shove it, because they have no
right to bother us," he said. "It is our constitutional right to be

According to Myers, they're not selling pot, just asking for donations
when they make a transaction. Besides pot, they offer shatter, hash
and edibles.

"We ask for donations because selling is illegal," Myers

He claims to have a Health Canada licence that allows him to deal and
grow cannabis products. "We can grow and sell to anybody," he said.
"The police will stand by me and let us do what we want to do here. We
are allowed to have a peaceful assembly."

So far, Myers said no one from the neighbourhood has complained. "We
don't sell to kids, only adults," he said.

Once Fright Night ends after Halloween, the pot stand will be moved to
another high-traffic area, Myers said.

David Hill is a partner in the popup stand. "The neighbours really
like me," he said. "I am one of the best growers you will ever meet. I
have been respectful here."

The Hasting Community Association's Sherry Breshears said that through
a deal with the park board they run the parking lot that is the site
of the pop-up stand. The money they get from the lot helps cover the
cost of running the Hastings Community Centre. They're getting nothing
from the pot stand for use of the lot.

She said she had raised their concerns about the pot stand with the
park board when the PNE was on. "I will bring it to their attention
again and someone will deal with it."

Vancouver police spokesman Sgt. Brian Montague said any shops selling
marijuana aren't legal, regardless of where they're operating or
whether they have a business licence from the city. "The VPD is aware
of all the shops in the city, but with heroin, cocaine,
methamphetamine and fentanyl issues, we must use our resources on a
priority-based response to drug offences in Vancouver," Montague said.

Vancouver Coun. Melissa De Genova is the NPA marijuana critic. She
said a pop-up pot stand flies in the face of those who have gone out
and got the proper approval. "I think Vision Vancouver has made a mess
of this and unfortunately it is the people who have followed the rules
in the process that will get hurt," she said.

B.C. Civil Liberties Association policy director Micheal Vonn said
those behind the pop-up pot stand may have an argument as they're on
public land. "It is not completely crazy what they are saying," she
said. "What constitutes free speech can be very broad."
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