SOURCE: BC Pain Society

November 12, 2015 13:30 ET

Canada's Premier Marijuana Dispensary May Be Forced to Close

BC Pain Society needs worldwide support.

VANCOUVER, BC--(Marketwired - November 12, 2015) - Following Vancouver's issuance of new zoning and business licensing for marijuana dispensaries, all current and prospective shops were required to apply for licenses. Of the 176 to do so, only 11 were approved to carry on to the second phase of the stringent process. The Broadway/Renfrew outlet of BC Pain Society, one of Canada's most respected dispensaries, is one of these. However, the organization's flagship store was unsuccessful, and they are asking the public to help them keep the world renowned dispensary alive.

BC Pain Society achieved worldwide recognition when it unveiled Canada's first marijuana vending machine in 2014, garnering coverage from premier local news programs such as CBC's Fifth Estate as well as international media houses such as The New York Times and the Bangkok Post. The organization now runs 4 dispensaries, all of which feature the convenient machines. Two of these are located in Vancouver -- the aforementioned Broadway/Renfrew outlet and the flagship store situated at 2908 Commercial Drive. BCPS founder Charles Varabioff welcomed the Broadway/Renfrew's approval for Stage 2 of the licensing process. "I've already filed my development permit application for that location," he shared.

However, he lamented the failure of the flagship store -- the very one that debuted the country's first medical marijuana vending machine -- to gain approval. He pointed out the refusal of his application had nothing to do with failing to adhere to laws, rules or guidelines but rather just barely missing an arbitrarily assigned number. According to the new zoning requirements, dispensaries and other marijuana related businesses must operate at least 300 meters from schools and community centers. The Commercial Drive store is 270 meters from a private school and 290 meters from a community center. While he fully supports increased regulation of legal marijuana, Varabioff doesn't believe shutting down one of the country's premier and most responsibly run dispensaries over a matter of a few meters is justifiable. "The city has to come up with some sort of regulations," he told Global News in an interview. "I understand that. The $30,000 licensing fee, I have no problem with that. It will cost the city a lot of time, money and enforcement to implement this program. What is an issue is the proximity rule, I have a better chance of winning the lottery than finding a zone compliant location in the city of Vancouver."

Varabioff also pointed out the fact that, with the closure of many smaller dispensaries, there will be a large number of patients seeking out new locations to legally obtain marijuana. Adding the closure of one of the city's largest dispensaries to the mix further throws into doubt the ability for the remaining dispensaries to handle the dramatic increase in traffic. He also touched on the employment and economic effects of the Commercial Drive location's closure on the community: "If I'm forced to move, there's going to be $250,000 of payroll taken out of the community. I have a $250,000 - $300,000 annual payroll. That's all through CRA -- all taxes are paid, and my employees receive full benefits."

There has already been an outpouring of support from the community, patients and the public at large in hopes that the flagship store of BC Pain Society is able to remain in its current location. As a result, a petition has been started on Change.org where supporters can add their names to the rapidly growing list. Varabioff also plans to officially invite Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to their dispensary in Vancouver in hopes of having some input in the writing of new marijuana laws once the government carries through with their election promise of legalization. Interested parties can sign the petition at https://www.change.org/p/mayor-of-vancouver-bc-pain-society-needs-your-support-to-remain-at-2908-commercial-drive-vancouver-bc.

About BC Pain Society:

BC Pain Society, widely considered Canada's premier marijuana dispensary, made international headlines in 2014 by announcing Canada's first marijuana vending machine. With four locations throughout BC, 8 marijuana vending machines and plans to franchise across the country BCPS continues to push for better understanding of this important medical treatment. BCPS is known for having some of the lowest prices in North America and in addition to medical marijuana carries CBD (Cannabidiol) products, cancer fighting oils, tinctures and a number of other creams, lotions and extracts.

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