Pot magnate claims dispensary rules violate Constitution
Don Briere claims City of Vancouver denying rights of medical marijuana users by seeking injunctions
Pot magnate Don Briere wants a B.C. Supreme Court judge to declare Vancouver's marijuana dispensary bylaws in violation of the Canadian Constitution.
In a petition filed in response to the city's attempts to shut him down, the self-styled pot-repeneur claims the rules would deny medical marijuana users hard-fought rights to access the drug.
This week, he filed a Notice of Constitutional Question in a bid to quash the bylaws.
"Why do they want to deprive these people who have worked hard all their lives for this country and paid their taxes," Briere said in an interview with CBC.
"They need help and that's what we're doing."
Briere operates five of the more than two dozen Vancouver dispensaries the city wants to close through court-ordered injunctions.
Vancouver has only licensed three dispensaries since implementing bylaws requiring pot dispensaries to be located 300 metres away from schools, community centres and other marijuana dispensaries.
In court documents filed in response to the city, Briere claims the rules violate Constitutional rights to life, liberty and security of the person as well as the right of all people to equal protection under the law.
The legal arguments build on on a string of court decisions which reaffirmed the rights of medical marijuana to access the drug in the form which is most beneficial to them.
Those same victories ultimately led the federal government earlier this month to introduce new laws allowing patients to grow their own pot or get others to do it for them.
Briere argues that the bylaws would shut down large numbers of dispensaries, reducing the number of products and strains of medical marijuana and forcing patients with limited mobility to "travel long distances" to get their medication.
He also claims the rules amount to discrimination because they would have "a disproportionate impact on medical marijuana patients who require treatment for chronic conditions and are of limited physical mobility."
A grim picture of life with less pot
The petition claims the City of Vancouver is overstepping its jurisdiction by trying to regulate the distribution of a substance which falls under federal laws.
The court documents paint a grim picture of life with less marijuana dispensaries.
"Decreasing access to medical marijuana by shutting down a large number of medical marijuana dispensaries will necessarily increase the amount of illicit marijuana trafficking and related crimes — if medical marijuana is harder to access, illegal trafficking will be more profitable, increasing the amount of organized crime and crime to property related to the trafficking of marijuana," Briere's petition reads.
"As a necessary result, there will also be more unregulated marijuana products on the black market that are much more likely to be hazardous to health, especially in relation to vulnerable people."
Briere has also filed a Constitutional challenge in relation to a battle with the city of Abbotsford, which has vowed to force him out of the community.
The City of Vancouver introduced its bylaws after the rapid expansion of more than 100 dispensaries.
The city says the regulations are designed to achieve a balance between providing an adequate supply of marijuana for those who need it and ensuring community health, safety and security.