The Canadian federal government considers all medical marijuana dispensaries to be illegal, and has called for all of them to be shutdown. There is a high concentration of medical marijuana dispensaries in Vancouver, B.C. in Canada. But so far the police seem to be unwilling to enforce anti-medical marijuana dispensary laws. This has led to a petition being created that people can sign and have it sent automatically to the Vancouver Police Department to thank the department for taking that position. I first saw the petition come across the Drug Policy Alliance's Twitter feed, and felt it was worth sharing if people in Vancouver felt it was appropriate. I obviously don't live in Vancouver, so I'm not as familiar with what is actually going on on the ground, but have heard good things. Below is the language of the petition, which can be signed at this link here (there are 126 signers as of the posting of this article):
To: The Vancouver Police Department
This is a letter to say THANK YOU!
We the undersigned would like to express our appreciation for the VPD's decision to use police discretion and not apply enforcement of the criminal law against many of the Vancouver medical cannabis retail stores that have emerged in the past few years. We applaud the VPD for the clear statement explaining their pragmatic, progressive and evidence informed approach in developing the department's position.
We appreciate a police department that balances the best interests of the public in terms of deployment of police resources and the expenditure of scarce public funds. The VPD's position that municipal zoning bylaws are more effective and prudent than the use of the criminal law in regulating medical cannabis dispensaries is refreshing and in line with the way that other retail outlets are regulated such as those that dispense alcohol and tobacco, two substances that have been shown to be significantly more harmful to our communities than cannabis. We also applaud the clarity in which the VPD have defended its position in the face of challenges from individuals, organizations and senior federal government departments.
There is a growing body of evidence that medical cannabis is an important option for treating a variety of conditions and that as a legitimate treatment medical cannabis is here to stay. The Supreme Court of Canada has ensured this on several occasions. For many, access to medical cannabis is essential to their health and well being and developing a regulatory system that gives reasonable and equitable access to all Canadians is important. Canada has one of the largest medical cannabis programs in the world at the national level and its regulatory structure is evolving at this time and VPD's leadership and commitment to finding new approaches on this important issue is greatly appreciated.
When regulated appropriately, the new legal cannabis stores will be different from how cannabis was sold under prohibition, as they will allow access for those who use cannabis as medicine, pay taxes, check age ID and sell a pure product with clear consumer information labeling. Allowing the cannabis stores to exist will allow police to put resources into pursuing "real" criminals who actually do harm in our society (e.g. murder, sexual assault and fraud). Another benefit to the police is that the enforcers of unpopular laws get targeted as the villains and in a post prohibition world the police will get to play their rightful role as the heroes of our society.
THANK YOU Vancouver Police Department!!!