Harm Reduction Club
Vancouver’s Harm Reduction Club opened Canada’s first above-ground marijuana
store on December 20, and stayed in business for 70 days before being busted
by Burnaby RCMP on February 28.?
Contact the Harm Reduction
Club at (604) 253-6357; email David Malmo-Levine at [email protected];
send mail care of Cannabis Canada.??
For David Malmo-Levine’s
advice on how to start a revolution in your community, see his
- Harm Reduction
The Harm Reduction Club first hit Vancouver in a big way on October 19,
when they held a kick-off rally in Vancouver’s Grandview Park, and organizer
David Malmo-Levine openly sold baggies of pot to anyone over the age of
13 who first became a member of the club and agreed not to drive while
impaired on marijuana. Vancouver Police watched from a polite distance,
but didn’t make any attempts to stop the rally. They didn’t even bring
their video cameras, usually a cop favourite for Vancouver pot gatherings.?
The Harm Reduction Club bought full page ads in Vancouver weekly Terminal
City, advertising their business phone number and moral justification.
They gave out their home/club address to members and prospective customers,
and created a safe and educational environment in which to purchase and
consume marijuana. The Club provided all members with a “Safer, Smarter
Smoking Guide”, and supplied free fruit and vitamins at their HQ.?
Vancouver police waited six weeks before moving in on December 4, and David
Malmo-Levine spent the night in jail, along with two of his co-workers
and roommates. The trio now face charges of possession for the purposes
from the Bust?
The bust was enough to shut down operations for two weeks, but on December
20 the Harm Reduction Club was back in action, with another full page ad
announcing their new storefront location, this time in the neighbouring
municipality of Burnaby.?
The new location was christened the “Dutch Embassy Flower and Tea Room”
and has the auspicious address of 420 Grove Street. They weren’t shy about
their activities; there were banners in the window with slogans like “Marijuana
is Medicine” and a sandwich board out on the sidewalk advertising their
The Harm Reduction
Club boasted over 1800 paid members, but although business was brisk things
weren’t easy for them at their new location. The club suffered four armed
robberies in as many weeks during the months of January and February, apparently
from local dealers who either didn’t want the competition, or just saw
the friendly and trusting Club as an easy mark.?
David and his coworkers fought back against the final armed robbery, and
although the crooks eventually fled without their gun, one of the HRC employees
had the unnerving experience at having the trigger repeatedly pulled on
him at point blank range, with what were later revealed to be blank cartridges,
miraculously dud blanks.?
The Harm Reduction Club repeatedly contacted the Burnaby RCMP, and the
RCMP ultimately made one arrest in connection with the robberies.?
The Club also announced
that they were changing their policy on selling pot to minors, in order
to gain public and police support by separating issues of parental authority
from prohibition. They promised to only sell to teenagers if the parent
or guardian came in person to sign a special parental permission slip.?
An Open Discussion?
Some letters appeared in local Burnaby papers condemning the Club, and
so David went to a Burnaby City Council meeting, introduced himself, and
offered to participate in an open discussion with the residents of Burnaby
in the form of a Town Hall meeting.?
“If the people of Burnaby don’t want us here, we’ll go,” says David, “but
I’ve got hundreds of clients in this city, and a petition in support of
the Dutch Embassy with over 500 signatures on it, about half of which are
from Burnaby residents.”?
The Mayor and council didn’t respond to the idea of a Town Hall meeting,
and so the Harm Reduction Club took out a full page ad in the Burnaby Now
weekly newspaper, requesting a response from the Mayor about their proposal
for an open debate.?
The day before the ad came out on March 1, the club was robbed again this
time by the Burnaby RCMP.?
The HRC and the
During February the RCMP had stepped up their harassment of the Dutch Embassy.
For about three weeks customers were being held and interrogated outside
the club, some were arrested, most were only intimidated and had their
pot confiscated. The Club responded by coaxing some local videographers
into recording any instances of police harassment.?
On February 28, the RCMP moved in. David Malmo-Levine and one co-worker
were arrested, along with one customer. The customer was released that
day, the co-worker spent one night in jail, but David spent seven days
in jail before his father was able to post bail for him. David’s bail conditions
include his being entirely forbidden from returning to Burnaby.?
The future plans of the Harm Reduction Club are still uncertain. Although
the Dutch Embassy did stay open while David was in jail, and even sold
a fair amount of herb, it is unlikely that the Club will retain the Burnaby
location. Whether the Harm Reduction Club will continue to sell pot in
some form is still undetermined. David is pursuing the idea of a Town Hall
meeting to achieve a community mandate, hoping to imitate the success of
the SF Buyer’s Club, on a smaller scale.?
For more info…?