Sechelt man, Robin Kehler, is determined to open a new medical marijuana dispensary, Weeds Glass and Gifts, even though Mounties have threatened to shut his store down.
Current Health Canada medical marijuana regulations prohibit home growing, and patients can only access dried buds by mail order from a federally licensed producer.
"For the most part, people are not buying into mail-order cannabis," Kehler told B.C. Almanac's Gloria Macarenko.
"They want to see it, feel it, touch it, and they want a selection."
Weeds Glass and Gifts is a medical marijuana dispensary chain that has 11 outlets in Vancouver. Kehler says he wants his shop to act as a conduit between producers and consumers who don't want to buy from licensed growers.
Marijuana law facing court challenge
The medical marijuana regulations, which came into effect last April, are being challenged in Federal Court by four patients, who argue that licensed producers will hike up the prices of medical marijuana and make it inaccessible.
Meanwhile, Kehler says the Sunshine Coast RCMP have warned him they will close down his shop, as dispensaries operate outside of the federally-regulated system.
Kehler says he understands the RCMP's mandate, but doesn't believe the federal government should insist on a crackdown on dispensaries when the current pot legislation is before the courts.
"I don't think that I'm doing anything wrong by being that person, like many others who are wanting to open up dispensaries to get this medicine out to the people," Kehler said.
60 illegal dispensaries in Vancouver
There are at least 60 medical marijuana dispensaries operating in Vancouver — all of which are illegal, but Vancouver police say shutting them down is not a priority.
"Obviously the enforcement action from a police perspective is extremely time consuming," said Const. Brian Montague.
"It takes a lot of manpower, looking at search warrants and recommending charges to Crown counsel, so there is a big resource allocation that has to be made when doing an enforcement action on one of these dispensaries."
There are about 35 dispensaries in B.C. outside of Vancouver, according to the Canadian Association of Medical Cannabis Dispensaries.