Dan Fumano: Critics question Vancouver councillor’s cannabis motion

People from the worlds of cannabis law, policy and business are questioning the purpose, practicality and timing of a Vancouver councillor’s motion seeking to increase scrutiny of cannabis dispensaries.

Non-Partisan Association Coun. Melissa De Genova has a motion on the agenda this week which seeks, among other things, to direct city staff to change requirements for city-licensed cannabis businesses “to include annual audited financial statements,” and to “obtain marijuana only from licensed producers approved by Health Canada.”

The motion’s stated purpose is to “deter organized crime.” And in an interview Tuesday at city hall, De Genova said she wants to promote public safety and “examine how this connects organized crime and/or gangs to the City of Vancouver and the impact it could have.”

But as many observers pointed out, Health Canada-approved licensed producers are not currently allowed to supply dispensaries.

Asked whether the city has the authority to require audited financial statements from dispensaries, De Genova pointed out that the city requires financial statements from organizations applying for cultural and community grants, although, she said, those statements are not audited.

But that comparison seemed like a “very strange leap” to Rielle Capler, a University of B.C. PhD candidate who researches cannabis policy.

Capler described De Genova’s motion as “redundant and misguided in many ways,” adding: “The current city regulations purposefully did not address the supply issue, because that is not in the city’s purview, nor will it be once cannabis is legalized federally and regulated provincially.”

Capler pointed to research by Canada’s federal Department of Justice that found organized crime was involved in only five per cent of a random sample of 500 cannabis production cases.

Vision Coun. Kerry Jang, his party’s lead on dispensary issues, said the city doesn’t require audited statements from other businesses, and it’s clear such powers fall …read more

Source:: Vancouver Sun

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