Marijuana Dispensaries: Legal or illegal in Vancouver?

One of the dispensaries on South Granville. By Ali Crane

One of the dispensaries on South Granville. By Ali Crane

Business owners and residents are upset after a third illegal marijuana dispensary shop opened last week in the shopping area of Marpole.

On Granville Street between approximately 50th and 70th an array of restaurants and shopping businesses reside.

In the area, the first marijuana dispensary opened up last spring and in the past month two more marijuana shops have opened, with one having opened just last week.

Dispensary shop across from the Safeway on South Granville. Photo by Ali Crane

Dispensary shop across from the Safeway on South Granville. Photo by Ali Crane

Randy Fincham, media relations officer for the VPD said last year there were only 12 known marijuana dispensaries in Vancouver, now there are approximately 53 that they know of.

“It is hard to tell if they increase crime in the area,” said Fincham. “We do treat these as a high priority but we tend to use our resources to focus more on the violent drug traffickers, but if we get a complaint regarding one of these shops we will investigate.”

The marijuana dispensaries that are currently running do not hold a business license nor insurance, which is a cause of concern for surrounding business owners.

“They think it’s a double-edged sword. It’s like there are two sets of rules and business owners are shocked that this is going on,” said Claudia Laroye, chair of the Marpole BIA. “They find it extremely unsettling.”

Erbachay Dispensary shown here showcases a clean and modern interior with couches and a sophisticated atmosphere. Photo by Ali Crane

Erbachay Dispensary shown here showcases a clean and modern interior with couches and a sophisticated atmosphere. Photo by Ali Crane

According to Laroye the fact that the marijuana operations do not have insurance means that if anything were to happen, businesses would not get any compensation for their damages.

Laroye also said that residents are concerned that the shops will become a “gateway” for children and young adults who live in the area and bring in a “type of cliental,” that may affect crime in the area.

Gudren Langolf, a Marpole resident is also unhappy with the amount of illegal dispensaries popping up.

“They add a sleaze factor that doesn’t make for a good family community,” said Langolf. “These are on a main street, it doesn’t look like they are trying to hide.”

According to Sara Couper, communications coordinator for the City of Vancouver, “there is currently no business license category for marijuana dispensaries due to conflicts across the statutory frameworks.”

Watch the mayoral candidates debate on the dispensary epidemic in Vancouver

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