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DNV council stonewalls Deep Cove pot shop
Just one week after hosting a packed town hall meeting to discuss the medical marijuana dispensary planned for Deep Cove, District of North Vancouver council voted on the dispensary’s fate late Tuesday night.
In a unanimous decision, council decided to support its new bylaw preventing the sale and distribution of marijuana anywhere in the district “except by persons authorized under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, Medical Marihuana Access Regulations and any other applicable legislation.”
The proposed dispensary was to be run by the Re-Leaf Society, a registered non-profit society formed by Deep Cove resident Ken Starr. The dispensary would not have operated under federal jurisdiction, no dispensary does, so the district’s bylaw has closed the door on Starr’s plans. Final adoption of the bylaw is scheduled for June 27.
Much of Tuesday’s special council meeting was spent discussing the perceived ineffectiveness – documented in much of the literature submitted to council by dispensary supporters last week – of the federal medicinal marijuana program. Judgments of, and suggestions for, the allegedly failing system, however, are an issue for Ottawa, said each member of council. The question facing North Vancouver is land use.
“I’m rather disappointed in the federal government for not helping more but it is a federal decision,” said Coun. Doug MacKay-Dunn. “Everyone on council can appreciate the pain and suffering of people who were here last week. But politics is all local and people want us to ensure land is used appropriately.”
Coun. Alan Nixon, in a sentiment echoed by fellow councillors, said he “was particularly perturbed by threats of political retribution [from last week’s meeting]... It’s never the way of getting the support of council.”
The threats Nixon alluded to came from Jacob Hunter, policy director of the medicinal marijuana advocacy group the Beyond Prohibition Foundation. In a phone interview with The Outlook last week, Kirk Tousaw, lawyer for Re-Leaf and member of the Beyond Prohibition Foundation, said his group would be prepared to continue advocating for dispensaries in the district if the bylaw was passed.
After the meeting Starr told reporters he had a scheduled meeting with Tousaw on June 22 to discuss his organization’s next steps. Starr would not confirm whether he had any plans of taking legal action against the district. Starr did say he was surprised how “unsupportive” council was on the issue, citing again the need for such an operation. His research, he added, showed the majority of medicinal marijuana users in the district live between the Deep Cove and Lonsdale areas.
“I’m not comfortable going into Vancouver to open. I wanted to do it here,” said Starr.
“The district missed a huge opportunity to help and educate people. They passed the buck.”
In contrast to council’s assertions that Starr had never approached district hall about his intentions, Starr said he had called a number of times since last summer to discuss required zonings.
Requests for comments from council were denied, as they are unable to discuss the proceedings until after the bylaw adoption on Monday.