VANCOUVER – Cannabis Culture, a popular chain of cannabis-related businesses that has been operating in Vancouver for 25 years, announced today it will be closing all three of its cannabis dispensaries in the city on January 31, 2019.
“It is with great sadness that we must announce the forced closure of three of our Cannabis Culture dispensary locations and the laying-off of over 50 employees, due to heavy-handed tactics by the City of Vancouver,” said Cannabis Culture CEO Jeremiah Vandermeer.
Cannabis Culture locations at 1674 Davie Street, 3421 E. Hastings Street, and 3175 W. Broadway will all be forced to close after the loss of a Supreme Court of British Columbia case involving 53 cannabis dispensaries in the city that were seeking to remain open.
The City of Vancouver has threatened to find Cannabis Culture and other shops in contempt of court for remaining open past January 31. The City has warned that staying open would mean the arrest of staff, hefty fines, jail time, and forced closure of buildings where the dispensaries operate.
Vancouver’s chief licensing inspector, Kathryn Holm, promised to use “fines, legal orders to close injunctions, referrals to a prosecutor’s office and … access to the provincial court system to get a ruling,” to force the closure of all cannabis dispensaries that are not operating within the City’s new non-medical cannabis regulations.
Cannabis Culture and other cannabis dispensaries are asking the City to grant emergency licences to the shops, so they can continue to serve thousands of medical patients and other customers who require products that are not currently available at recreational stores, like extracts and edibles.
“Cannabis dispensaries save lives, and decades of scientific research proves it without a doubt,” said Jodie Emery of Cannabis Culture, who presented five major studies to Vancouver City Councillors showing definitive evidence that opioid overdoses and deaths decrease significantly where medical cannabis dispensaries exist (sources below).
“While the City of Vancouver takes bold, progressive action with respect to harm reduction measures such as InSite and opioid access programs, they are irrationally threatening harsh punishments against peaceful dispensaries providing life-saving cannabis access,” Emery said.
“With the opioid crisis motivating the City to take emergency action, it is dangerous to forcibly close down access to proven harm reduction alternatives. Raids and closures are guaranteed to cause significant harm to tens of thousands of citizens who depend on dispensaries for a safer alternative to opioids, alcohol, and other harmful drugs.”
Since Canada legalized marijuana on October 17, 2018, the City of Vancouver has so far issued licences to only three new recreational cannabis stores – and only one is actually open for business. Vancouver’s new regulations include harsh proximity rules that will severely limit approved locations for licensed stores across the city. The Federal government’s new cannabis system has been bogged-down by massive supply shortages across the country, which experts say could last for years.
Cannabis Culture’s location at 307 W. Hastings will remain open as a Headshop, Vapor Lounge and home to the company’s media activities, including Cannabis Culture Magazine and Pot TV.
HOW TO HELP
Click the links below to TAKE ACTION and help Cannabis Culture and other dispensaries stay open!
Call Mayor Kennedy Stewart at 604-873-7621
Call Councillor Adriane Carr, Vancouver Green Leader, at 604-873-7245
Call NPA Councillor Rebecca Bligh at 604-873-7249
Call NPA Councillor Lisa Dominato now at 604-873-7248
Social Science Research Network, November 2018
The Effect of Medical Cannabis Dispensaries on Opioid and Heroin Overdose Mortality: Julio Garin at Claremont McKenna College, R. Vincent Pohl at the University of Georgia, and Rhet A. Smith at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock
“The study found that counties with dispensaries experience 6 to 8 percent fewer opioid overdose deaths overall and 10 percent fewer heroin overdose deaths.”
“Importantly, these effects are limited to counties where dispensaries opened and do not apply to non-dispensary counties in states with that have legalized medical cannabis.”
That is, “while legalizing medical cannabis is not associated with lower levels of opioid overdose mortality, the presence of dispensaries has a large negative impact on the number of opioid-related deaths.”
Journal of Health Economics, Volume 58, March 2018
Do medical marijuana laws reduce addictions and deaths related to pain killers?
“The key feature … that facilitates a reduction in overdose death rates is a relatively liberal allowance for dispensaries”
“As states have become more stringent in their regulation of dispensaries, the protective value generally has fallen … broader access to medical marijuana facilitates substitution of marijuana for powerful & addictive opioids.”
U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse, May 2016
Study Links Marijuana Dispensaries to Reduced Mortality From Opioid Overdose
“The most striking finding was that legally protected marijuana dispensaries (LMDs) were associated with lower rates of dependence on prescription opioids, and deaths due to opioid overdose…”
“Dr. Powell and his co-investigators compared rates of opioid-related treatment admissions and mortality rates in states with and without LMDs using data from the annually compiled Treatment Episodes Data Set (TEDS) and the National Vital Statistics System, respectively. Their analysis revealed that states with LMDs had lower opioid-overdose mortality rates and fewer admissions to treatment for opioid addiction than they would have had without the dispensaries. The estimated sizes of the reductions were 16 to 31 percent in mortality due to prescription opioid overdoses, and 28 to 35 percent in admissions for treatment of opioid addiction.”
National Bureau of Economic Research, July 2015
Do medical marijuana laws reduce addictions and deaths related to painkillers? Marijuana dispensaries save lives, new study shows
“The researchers found that these states experienced significant reductions in both measures of opioid misuse — but only if they had also legalized marijuana dispensaries.”
“In the six states where doctors are allowed to prescribe marijuana, but where retail dispensaries are prohibited, the study found “no evidence” of “reductions in substance abuse or mortality.” But in those 18 states where medical marijuana shops are allowed, they found a 16% reduction in “opioid-related mortality” and 28% reduction in opioid-abuse treatment admissions.”
The Journal of the American Medical Association, 2014
Medical Cannabis Laws and Opioid Analgesic Overdose Mortality in the United States, 1999-2010
“Medical cannabis laws are associated with significantly lower state-level opioid overdose mortality rates”
“States with medical cannabis laws had a 24.8% lower mean annual opioid overdose mortality rate (95% CI, −37.5% to −9.5%; P = .003) compared with states without medical cannabis laws. Examination of the association between medical cannabis laws and opioid analgesic overdose mortality in each year after implementation of the law showed that such laws were associated with a lower rate of overdose mortality that generally strengthened over time: year 1 (−19.9%; 95% CI, −30.6% to −7.7%; P = .002), year 2 (−25.2%; 95% CI, −40.6% to −5.9%; P = .01), year 3 (−23.6%; 95% CI, −41.1% to −1.0%; P = .04), year 4 (−20.2%; 95% CI, −33.6% to −4.0%; P = .02), year 5 (−33.7%; 95% CI, −50.9% to −10.4%; P = .008), and year 6 (−33.3%; 95% CI, −44.7% to −19.6%; P < .001). In secondary analyses, the findings remained similar.”