Politics
BC medical marijuana activist starts pot bazaar for low-income users

Dave Douglas with his medical marijuana possession licence and small bag of pot in Vancouver, Dec. 5, 2012

Credits: CARMINE MARINELLI/Vancouver 24hrs/QMI AGENCY

MICHAEL MUI | QMI AGENCY

VANCOUVER - High “medicine” costs to use marijuana from sanctioned Health Canada growers and the black market has frustrated a local man enough to start his own 420 Market in east Vancouver.

It’s been running once a month since October, pot activist Dave Douglas said. His federal medical marijuana licence allows him to purchase a large amount daily — 20 grams — from a sanctioned grower. It’s too much for him to use alone, so he sells it for about three-quarters of the black market price to licensees who otherwise couldn't afford it.

“The prices have gotten very, very high. The compassion clubs, they’re at the mercy of the growers, so whatever the growers charge them they have to add an operation cost for the patients,” said the 53-year-old.

“What we can do is give the low-income people the opportunity to get the medicine they need.”

Health Canada said it doesn’t get involved in licensee financial transactions. Douglas calls his market a “grey area,” adding he’s already spoken to police about it.

Vancouver Const. Brian Montague said officers would likely leave the party alone unless there are complaints. Douglas has promised that only people who hold medical marijuana possession permits would be allowed to buy, ID will be checked at the door.

“Our focus isn’t on compassion clubs or medical marijuana,” he said Monday. “The sale of marijuana is illegal … but obviously we have discretion we can use with regards to how those laws are enforced.”

Douglas, along with more than a dozen vendors — peddling items such as seeds, growing and smoking equipment, food, books and more — will operate the market between noon to 6 p.m. on Dec. 16 at a photography studio.

Sensible BC founder Dana Larsen said there are more than a dozen marijuana dispensaries already operating in Vancouver. He runs two of them and has never been raided by police.

“It’s a very poorly designed system,” he said of the sanctioned permits. “(Transactions) are entirely between the patient and the grower … some growers charge a lot, some rip off their patients.”

Vancouver Coun. Kerry Jang supports legalizing and regulating the weed, but he said council couldn’t just grant business licences to those like Douglas — drug laws are above civic governance.

“We can’t actually do anything with our business licences until the federal government says it’s legal or illegal,” he said.

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