Vancouver Presses Ahead With Pot Dispensary Plans Over Ottawa’s Objections

Despite new objections from the federal government, Vancouver city council has decided to hold public hearings to refine a plan to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries, pressing ahead with new rules that could be in place by the fall.

As council voted 10-1 on Tuesday in favour of the hearings, the federal government released a letter from Health Minister Rona Ambrose and Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney asking councillors not to proceed with the plan because it could facilitate access to marijuana.

“Storefront sales of marijuana legitimize and normalize the use of marijuana and can have only one effect: increasing marijuana use and addiction,” the letter said, adding that such an “irresponsible approach” sends a terrible message to youth and would make it easier for them to gain access to marijuana.

New rules would limit where dispensaries can be set up and would charge hefty licence fees.

Ms. Ambrose and Mr. Blaney said they are “deeply concerned” about council’s plans.

The letter noted that the courts require the federal government to facilitate access to marijuana when authorized by a physician, but this must be done in a “controlled fashion.” Last year, the government set up a network of commercial producers that distribute their product through the mail. “Storefront sales are illegal,” the letter said.

– Read the entire article at The Globe and Mail.