Vancouver marijuana public hearing under fire
Group, Smart Approaches to Marijuana Canada, vows to boycott meeting, describes it as circus for pot lobby
A group opposed to marijuana dispensaries in Vancouver says it will boycott a public hearing this week at city hall about proposed new laws for the stores.
Smart Approaches to Marijuana Canada is asking others to stay away too.
"We think that this really is going to be a circus and platform for the pot lobby more than anything else," said Pamela McColl who speaks for the group, which is trying to be the voice of dissent for Vancouver's plans to regulate more than 90 dispensaries currently operating in the city.
"It should not be allowed to happen. They should not be given licenses. Let people get marijuana for medical purposes through the Canadian government's Health Canada program," she said.
- Dispensaries: citizens caught between Ottawa, pot activists
- Booming marijuana retailers could face new regulations
- Federal government wants marijuana dispensaries shut
The public hearing takes place on Wednesday June 10 at, at city hall. Smart Approaches' attempt to limit the hearing doesn't appear to be working.
So far 65 people have registered to speak on proposed bylaw changes for marijuana-related businesses.
They include a $30,000 licensing fee, restrictions on the proximity to schools and community centres, and a three-stage city review.
Smart Approaches for Marijuana Canada is opposed to regulating the dispensaries, saying they will simply become a gateway for youth to obtain the drug. McColl says she's surprised that the main pushback to the city's plans is coming from the federal government, which wants them shut down.
"Why am I doing this? Why are we doing this?" said McColl of her efforts. "Where is law enforcement? Where are the political parties? Where's the opposition parties to the B.C. government? Where is everybody? You know this is illegal business going on here."
In addition to the boycott of the hearing, Smart Approaches is also demanding the resignation of city manager Dr. Penny Ballem, It has also written to BC Hydro asking the utility to disconnect power to what it calls illegal dispensaries.
Meanwhile, cannabis advocate, Sensible BC, is pushing hard for more speakers at Wednesday's public hearing.
It says it's been coordinating with patients and groups across the city, even running training sessions to make sure its message is heard regarding regulations. It says the hearings could shape medical access to marijuana and possibly legalization of the drug in Canada.