Finally, a North American Marijuana Store

On December 20th, 1996, the Vancouver Harm Reduction Club opened what mustbe North America’s first modern marijuana storefront.

The Harm ReductionClub opened the “Dutch Embassy Flower and Tea Room” at420 Grove Street and have been selling pot out of the small store every daysince then. They’ve got banners in the window with slogans like “Marijuanais Medicine” and they’ve even got a sandwich board out on the sidewalk.The corner has a real Dutch feel,with the Dutch pancake house across the street, the flower shop next door specializing in Dutch tulips, and now, a marijuana smokeeasy.They do a brisk business and have not yet had any police hassles at thisnew location. (Note that 420 Grove Street is actually their realhonest-to-goodness address. Cool, eh?)

As you might remember, the Harm Reduction Club was operating out of aprivate home, but were busted on December 4. The three main organizers ofthe club face charges of possession for the purposes of trafficking.

The Embassy has recently met with a few setbacks, all of them wearing skimasks and brandishing weapons. On the evening of January 17th, three maleswith guns came into the store and left with $1500 of grass, $300 in cash,and the store’s scales. They claimed to be dealers who had had their turfinfringed upon; they suggested that the store be closed down. Thanks to thegenerosity of local growers the store was restocked and reopened the nextday, while the newsmedia carried the story on the evening broadcasts.

Three days later, the badmen paid a return visit, this time making off withthe weed, some cash, the recently replaced scales, and a cellular phone. Their intimidation was a tire iron. This further setback has notdiscouraged David Malmo-Levine, who plans to reopen the store with the helpof his generous supporters and the local cannabis community. Afterconsulting with the club lawyer, the Embassy has gone to the BurnabyRCMPolice for assistance. Apparently, the police expressed that they weremore concerned with theives than with the Embassy’s harm reduction project;It is expected that their assistance will be enlisted provided there is anassurance that they won’t bust the club without a formal complaint. To easethe tensions further, the Embassy will now require parental permissionbefore any pot is sold to those under 18 years of age.

What follows is the full text of the full page ad which the Harm ReductionClub bought in local weekly paper Terminal City, announcing the December 20opening of the new location.

To get in touch with the Vancouver Harm Reduction Club call their newnumber at (604) 291-7729, or call David Malmo-Levine at (604) 617-1169, oremail him at [email protected]. (He may take a while to answer email.)



In other words, this gig may be North America’s first shameless, aboveground, fully accountable to the public, fully stocked cannabis dealership.Unlike Holland, we will not be serving any tobacco, alcohol, caffeine orother physically addictive drugs.

The whole point of the thing is to reduce the harm that comes with theinevitable use of drugs by 1) separating the hard and soft drug market and2) educating everyone who chooses to use these drugs to minimize unwantedeffects.

We stand by the studies done in Holland, Costa Rica, Jamaica, Germany andAustralia, that the harm reduction drug policy is effective. Consideringthe police state we seem to be quickly slipping into and the environmentalcollapse looming from using too many synthetics, we feel that Canada mustlead the way to end global cannabis prohibition, or world may one daybecome one great big Singapore. Or worse.


We know times are tough and no cop wants to lose their job over a bunch ofwhiny potheads. We don’t want to make you look evil or stupid when we openour business. We just want you to cut us a bit of slack to experiment, letus put our money where our mouth is and see if we can’t reduce social harmor not – if not completely satisfied, double your drugwar back.

This isn’t some joke or prank. We are deadly serious. Many of us have beenwriting letters for years, patiently filing out each Access to Informationrequest after Freedom of information request….only to find out that ourgovernment doesn’t possess any evidence whatsoever that prohibition works!When we confront them with this, they hang up the phone, or cut us off attheir extremely brief “town hall” meetings.

The court system is taking too long. Bill C-8, as you know, is practicallylaw, and it will give you as much power over us as German police had overJews in, say, thirty-six or so – long before the gas chambers, but justkeep in mind Newt Gingrich is now calling for “mass executions” of all drugsmugglers.

Under Bill C-8, you can now hire our friends as narcs, set us up, search uswithout probable cause, seize our property and if you happen to be one ofthose few “bad cops”, you may now choose to plant stuff on us and get totestify by affidavit to avoid cross examination. We don’t even get a jurytrial for dealing any more. Forgive us if we feel a little desperate thesedays.

You don’t have to go along with what you know is a witchhunt. Here are someways to avoid it: 1) Keep busy investigating real crimes where people wereharmed or property was stolen or damaged. 2) Wait until someone complainsto you of some harm we have caused before you investigate us. 3) Use thefindings in the Ledain Commission, the BC Chief Coroners report, theNational Task Force on Cannabis in Australia 1994 among others to back upyour conscientious non-cooperation with what can only be called drugwarcrimes.

Still not convinced? Take this quote for example; from the Dutch governmentreport titled “Drugs Policy in the Netherlands – continuity and change”

“The Netherlands’ view that cannabis products entail less serious healthrisks than hard drugs and thus require a different approach, is not evenshared by all the countries of the European Union. Recent reports fromabroad by authoritative experts on drugs support the distinction made inDutch law between soft and hard drugs. Criticism based on views about theheath risks for which no support can any longer be found in the scientificliterature can of course not be grounds for amending Dutch policy.”

If you are ordered to close us down, request scientific data first to backup your use of force, in order to avoid looking like fools in the media. Noone will be able to give you any, and that will buy us some time.

If you absolutely must bust us, please don’t have your guns drawn thistime. Lets be civil about these things. We may be marijuana dealers, but wearen’t dangerous.


Let’s face it – teens use and abuse pot. You can’t stop them. Throw them injail? They’ll buy it there too. If there is a problem with teen pot use, itisn’t because the pot is all that dangerous, it’s because prohibition makesa relatively safe activity more hazardous, and carries serious side effectsof it’s own. What do we mean?

  • The number one health consideration, impaired driving, happens more oftenin a prohibitionist system as 1) cars are used by teens to conceal theircrime from their parents, and 2) the stigma connected to a criminal recordprevents honest communication about a teen’s need for help – in gettinghome from a party, for example.

  • The second most important health consideration, lung damage, occurs morein a prohibitionist system because
    1. “safer smoking tools” like waterpipes and glass pipes are banned,
    2. there’s no quality control on thecultivation methods,
    3. “fake” pot and hash can be sold, with sometimestragic results
    4. prohibition deters some grow operations and drives up theprice, which then prevents teens from cooking with ganja butter – a safer(no lung damage, no toxicity level) but more expensive way to gethigh.

Prohibition also has some serious side effects:

  • To get to the soft drugs, teens often get exposed to hard drugs.
  • Some teens are also exposed to guns, gangs, and easy drug money.
  • Peaceful users, dealers and growers face a record, stiff fines and evenjail time. In some countries they face much worse.
  • Young people are often direct victims of the drug war, be it in gang ongang violence or accidental shootings like Daniel Posse – accidentally shotdead by Vancouver Police during a marijuana raid (a raid which netted lessthan an ounce of pot).

At the Harm Reduction Club, rather than be hypocrites (most of us startedsmoking in our teens) and turn kids away, we give teens access to safer”just pot” surroundings. They must promise to 1) smoke responsibly, 2) notoperate any heavy machinery while impaired, and 3) respect our neighbors asthey come and go. We give them a copy of the “safer smarter smoking guide”,and we put 10% of our profits for free legal council in the event of a clubactivity bust.

If anybody out there can show us that raising our age limit would reducethe harm further, we would be happy to bump it up to sixteen or eighteen orthirty-five or whatever.

Consider this: the risks of caffeine are greater than THC in every way.Found in chocolate, soda pop, coffee, tea and aspirin, caffeine isphysically addicting (with headache as the most often cited withdrawalsymptom) and can cause unnecessary stress, lightheadedness, breathlessnessand an irregular heartbeat – or much worse in larger-than-average doses.You can also die of overdose. Thousands do every year. Marijuana isn’t evenremotely as dangerous – no deaths by overdose, no physical addiction, andminimal health risks in a tolerant and open world.

Now think about the real “wrong message” to give to your children.Remember, the little rugrats are often smarter than we give them creditfor. They see through the reefer madness. Do you?


Change isn’t always bad. Sometimes, with a bit of forethought, one can takeadvantage of inevitable changes. Let’s face it – this market is massive. Wecan all make tons of money going legit – and have lots left over to pay forschools and hospitals and turn Canada into what it could be – a land ofpeace, tolerance of alternative lifestyles and prosperity for everyone.

An end to the drug war would take the economic power out of the hands ofthe drug corporations and put it in the hands of us farmers – right whereit should be. The same thing could then happen with industrial hemp.

If you aren’t into any of this legalization stuff, at least leave us be. Weare, after all, trying to make life a lot less stressful for you.


This is it. Gotta draw the line somewhere. The witchhunt ends this Friday,December 20th, 1996 at two PM. At exactly two PM (not a moment sooner, forsecurity reasons) phone your local hemp store and get the address of ourcafe. Then get your (non-impaired) assess down there for a special, one dayonly sale on memberships and pot!!! For one day only, memberships will behalf price! (5 bucks) and pot will be only 25 bucks for an eighth, or eightbucks for a gram sized joint (limit one joint and one eighth per member toavoid obvious problems).

Now’s the time. Either we risk arrest now (by the way, each club member’slegal expenses are covered for all club activities, including this one) orwe risk Singapore later, and not too much later by the looks of it. Bringcameras, warm clothes (this party may have to go late, like three or fourdays late) and all your Clay-o-quot courage, but please leave alcohol,aggression and weapons at home. All musicians, entertainers andvideographers will be smoked up for free, as per usual.

Now’s the time. Everyone on earth knows prohibition is a scam. It’s time toface the evil empire. The force of truth is with us.

Dana Larsen [email protected]
Editor, Cannabis Canada, “Canada’s National Magazine of Marijuana & Hemp”
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