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Let 'Green Tree Medical Marijuana Dispensary' have a business license

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Green Tree Medical Marijuana Dispensary has been fighting a battle to stay open, with the City of Langford since they first opened in January 2017.  The City of Langford, specifically the mayor Stew Young, has publicly stated he does not condone giving a business license to any dispensary until the government makes a decision on the legality of this all, as it is currently a grey area.

Neighbouring communities such as Sooke, Victoria, Duncan, Ladysmith, Port Alberni, Mill Bay, Saltspring Island and Chemainus have already welcomed dispensaries just like this one.  In fact, Victoria already will give business licenses to dispensaries as long as they abide by their very fair requirements (  Sooke also let dispensaries have business licenses, within RCMP jurisdiction. Vancouver has issued 16 business licenses to dispensaries.(7)

Like the Langford dispensary, many in Vancouver have the same orange "Stop Work" order sign on the door.  It states that if you are a business operating without a license, you are subject to a $200 a day fine, that is it.  Green Tree was happy to pay the daily fee, as the City of Langford was not offering them any other options.  However, the police again came and raided the dispensary (following an estimate by Kirk Tousaw that dispensary raids cost taxpayers $50,000 this has costed the public $100,00) for the second time, and arrested two employees.

Stew Young's arguments are this: 
“It’s not a healthy situation when communities have 30 or 40 of these things pop up and we don’t know where the drugs are coming from, we don’t know what other things [the dispensaries] are doing. There’s no safeguards,” Young said. (1)

“That’s why the storefronts are proliferating because there's money to be made,” Young said. “We just don’t want a free-for-all with every single street corner in Langford having a pot shop on it.” (2)

"You go in there, you get medical marijuana, and then all your buddies go smoke up.  We don't know where that marijuana is coming from. " (3)

I am sure everyone does understand *partly* where Stew Young is coming from - it is a legal grey area, and marijuana is still illegal to consume for enjoyment.  However, here are some points and questions I would love Stew Young to think about.

A. What is it that is unhealthy about communities having dispensaries? What is unhealthy about marijuana? What is unhealthy about marijuana compared to other substances your community abuses on a daily basis like alcohol, nicotine, sugar, and other illegal drugs? Do you know what kind of testing is done on government medical marijuana? Did you know that up until this month the government did not require pesticide testing from their growers, and only their require only 2 to do pesticide testing after having to destroy over ONE MILLION DOLLARS in tainted marijuana? (5)

As for what else the dispensaries are doing - what exactly are you implying? Are you implying the workers are shady criminals? Have you met or even spoken to anyone  from Green Tree personally? Come say hi ~ the water's fine! Dispensary workers don't bite, they are there to help and support where our federal (and as you are starting to prove (it's not too late to prove us wrong!!)), municipal as well) government has failed us.

B. Dispensaries are not popping up on every corner in Langford, we have zero. Do you also have complaints about the four Starbucks, three Tim Hortons, and various other coffee shops in Langford? Caffeine is a drug.  Do you have issues with the EIGHT liquor stores in Langford? Alcohol is a drug.  How about all the corner stores you can get cigarettes at? Or your prescription drugs at?

It is not a free for all - the government is just not making money of it like the other listed businesses that sell drugs, is that a problem? While you may not think of these things (alcohol, cigarettes, prescription drugs, caffeine, sugar), I'm sorry to break it to you, but they are.  They also cause a lot more health problems than marijuana ever has.  Please enlighten us on how many drunk driving incidents the City of Langford has seen since 2016? How about how many overdoses from drugs that actually kill? One of your OWN RCMP officers was killed by a drunk driver last year - and where is the driver right now? Why waste so much money and attention on a dispensary when there are so many more serious issues at hand everyday in Langford?

C.  Thank you for assuming everyone who goes to a dispensary for safe access to medical marijuana is just there to get high with their buddies.  That is a very closed minded statement to make, and harmful to everything medical marijuana advocacy groups are fighting for.  These patients are not pot heads, these are your neighbours, your friends, your accountants, your hair dressers, your dentists, your child's teachers trying to seek alternative medication instead of the prescription garbage the government is trying to give us.  Did you know that BC's Provincial Health Officer is suggesting prescription heroin for those struggling with opioid addiction (despite being the one's to prescribe addictive opioids in the first place)? One hundred and sixteen people have overdosed and died just this January in British Columbia, how many have overdosed from medical marijuana? How many people have ended up in the hospital from marijuana... ever?

As for where the marijuana is coming from, I bring you back to the point that the government doesn't even require pesticide testing from their growers, except from the two that already had to destroy over a million dollars worth of marijuana.  I wonder how long they were getting away with selling that tainted marijuana to the public through the government? (5.1)

If you are so scared of what these dispensaries mean for your city, did you ever think to come into this "highly illegal" business, and say hello? See if the people behind the counter are the hard up thugs you'd like to think they are? See if the patients coming in are the underage pot head criminals you're describing to the media? No, you didn't.  So why not give them a chance? Come say hi and actually meet the people you are shutting down, meet YOUR public that you are keeping a safe and healthier medication option from.  If you won't even give Green Tree a chance, I would love for you to look every single patient in the eye, including the patients with horrible illnesses and diseases like MS, Cancer, Lupus, Arthritis, and Epilepsy why YOU are not okay with them having close and safe access to a dispensary.  

On that note, I will leave everyone with this tid bit of info below, and a video on why and how marijuana became illegal, and ask that the City of Langford keep an open mind, give Green Tree a chance, and to truly inquire in what the public wants.

"Estimating each dispensary raid costs taxpayers $50k the government has burned through >$7,000,000 of your money since the LPC was elected." - Kirk Tousaw
(Kirk Tousaw is barrister and advocate based in Vancouver and Victoria, BC. Kirk is an active proponent of modernizing our cannabis policies by repealing prohibition and implementing a regime of reasonable controls)

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