Vancouver dispensaries could damage neighbourhoods, says group

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The rise in illegal marijuana dispensaries could lead to increases in crime and violence, falling property values and higher rates of youth addiction, says the Coalition for Dispensary Free Communities (CDFC).

Pamela McColl represents the CDFC, an anonymous group of Metro Vancouver citizens concerned the the boom in illegal marijuana dispensaries poses economic, health and safety risks for the communities in which they’re located.

“It’s a group of people who are concerned about their neighbourhood, particularly,” said McColl in an interview with Vancity Buzz. “Both professional people [like] doctors, and residents. People who have concerns about a lot of their assets as far as their property values and business being hurt by dispensaries.”

McColl says she was contacted a month ago as a way for the group to get their message out, while maintain their anonymity, but was contacted more recently to speak to the public on the group’s behalf.

“They reconnected with me to do an interview with CKNW the other day because they were unwilling to stick their necks out and the come out and really speak about this,” says McColl. “They’re worried about their jobs and they’re worried about just their safety, and I understand that.”

McColl says their concern comes from anecdotal evidence from resident and businesses- including a daycare she says approached her- of a rise in break-and-enters in resident’s neighbourhoods, as well as an increase in loitering, public drug use, and general criminal activity.

“In the case of day cares they have to go out and sweep the playground before the kids go out, to make sure no one is out there doing drugs,” says McColl. “These dispensaries are not only beacons for crime, they’re also beacons for other kinds of drug use. They’ve seen an increase in needles in their playgrounds. They’ve seen lots of people hanging about.”

According to McColl, the recent vote by Vancouver City Council to regulate and license the roughly 100 marijuana dispensaries that have cropped up in the past few years is the “wrong plan at the wrong time.” Citing crime rates in places like Colorado, which legalized recreational marijuana use in 2012, or Santa Cruz, which she links to marijuana dispensaries, she says that City Council is “wholly unprepared for what is about to happen in Vancouver.”

“This is federal territory for a very good reason. We have restricted to use of marijuana because it is a dangerous drug. It just is. It isn’t safe for human consumption.”

It should be noted that a recent study by the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs found no link between dispensaries and crime rates in California, while another study by the Drug Policy Alliance shows crimes rates have dropped, and tax revenue has increased since legalization.

McColl has concerns that what she calls the “pot lobby” could be behind the rise in dispensaries, and that the overall repercussions could reach much further.

“The pot lobby really got funded in 1996 with their $80 millions dollars, and that’s when they really got aggressive. They started in California and started making their way around. Now they’ve worked their way into this country,” she says. “They have an ultimate agenda of a one-world government and they want all drugs legalized, including heroin.”

Meanwhile, in Vancouver, McColl says now isn’t the time to progress the use of marijuana. Time and thought is needed, but according to her the right plan is not this plan.

“It’s a really, really bad plan,” she says. “It promotes marijuana use, and it sends the wrong message.”

More information on the Coalition for Dispensary Free Communities can be found at www.cfdfc.com.

**The opinions of this interviewee are not the opinions of Vancity Buzz, nor the opinions of the author.

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Shawn O'Hara Shawn is a Staff Writer at Vancity Buzz. He loves writing about news, arts, movies, comedy, and culture. Some would argue Shawn is too old to still play Dungeons & Dragons. Shawn would disagree.

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