Twelve months after Vancouver city council adopted rules on pot dispensaries, a majority of city residents believe medical marijuana is as safe or safer than alcohol, but most are also concerned about pot use in public, a new poll reports.
The poll was conducted this month by Nanos Research, via a random phone survey of 400 adult residents of Vancouver, and was commissioned by cannabis advocacy group Sensible B.C. About nine per cent of respondents reported using medical marijuana, while just over half said they didn’t know anyone who uses it. Only 14 per cent supported a complete ban on dispensaries.
Nanos found most respondents support dispensaries selling edibles and providing safe places for users to smoke or vaporize, both of which are prohibited under Vancouver’s current bylaws.
Sensible B.C. director Dana Larsen said the results show many Vancouverites are dissatisfied with city hall’s approach to regulating pot shops.
“Certainly, this poll shows that people do not want dispensaries treated so much more strictly than liquor stores,” said Larsen, who operates two dispensaries in Vancouver.
As a handful of Vancouver’s pot shops move toward licensing, city officials are taking enforcement actions against the unlicensed dispensaries, and some have voluntarily closed.
“The fact is, when you’re trying to shut down 90 per cent of the places in the city, and trying to limit access to only a couple of dozen spots … that’s not legalization or tolerance, that’s prohibition under a different name,” said Larsen. “We want bylaws, but we want fair bylaws.”
But Vancouver Coun. Kerry Jang, the self-described “main architect” of the city’s dispensary bylaws, said most citizens appreciate that the new framework “has struck a good balance.”
“The only one complaining about it is Dana Larsen,” Jang said. “They’re the ones who are making it a political issue … but really it comes down to the fact they got used to making money, unregulated, and now we have regulation in place. It’s all about money now. They’re trying to dress it up as cannabis culture, but really it’s cannabis commerce. They’re hiding behind that cloak of activism in order to make money.”
But Larsen disputed that he was primarily motivated by his own financial interests, and said “thousands and thousands” of Vancouverites are upset that the city’s regulations are “too restrictive,” adding that “if (Jang’s) not hearing that, he’s not listening.”
Currently, one Vancouver pot dispensary has a city-issued business licence, four more are in the final stages of obtaining their licences and another 16 are in the early stages, Jang said Sunday.
Enforcement action will continue, he said, for the 50 or so other dispensaries illegally operating without licences.