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Councillor De Genova likes edible marijuana products?

February 1, 2016
A cupcake -- I thought, that would make a nice snack.

Oh look, a tasty cupcake, I thought,.

NPA councillor Melissa De Genova is back in the news. Last time she wanted the city to licence bicycles and this time she doesn’t want the city to licence pot dispensaries. Go figure!

De Genova says that while she supports the federal legalization of marijuana, she wants to scrap Vancouver’s by-law allowing for the licencing of medical marijuana-related businesses.

She’s therefore tabling a motion (seconded by NPA colleague, councillor Elizabeth Ball) before Vancouver City Council that calls for a Moratorium on Medical Marijuana-Related Business Development Permit Applications:

“THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED
A.  THAT Council direct staff to place an immediate moratorium on all Development Permit Reviews and processes for Medical Marijuana-Related Uses in the City of Vancouver, and that no business licences for said uses shall be issued, until such time as the Government of Canada enacts legislation to legalize, regulate and restrict access to marijuana and implements a new regulatory framework and system for marijuana sales and distribution, whether it be for medical marijuana or recreational marijuana.”

In a January 31 post to the NPA’s website, De Genova explains that she fully understands the benefits of medical marijuana. She just thinks that Vancouver’s by-law is inherently flawed, and the city’s current policy is backwards, is all.

“Last year’s amendments to the Zoning By-law will force the closure of some well-regarded, long-standing, non-profit compassion clubs that don’t meet the requirements of the City’s new by-law,” says De Genova. “The City’s by-law also doesn’t allow for edible marijuana products to be sold, even though the Supreme Court ruled last year that medical marijuana patients have a right to access edibles.”

This mention of edibles caught my eye and made me laugh. Back in November of 2015 I was binning through the dumpster on my way to bed when I came upon a bunch of what I thought, at first glance, were individually packaged muffins. Later, under the yellow glare of a street light, I saw that the labeling read: “Epic Edibles Brownie.”

Bedtime snacks, I thought.

Like getting fentanyl instead of heroin—except harmless

epic-brownie-03

In fact, when I finally got to my parkade sleeping spot, I was too tired to eat one of the brownies. But, under the parkade lighting they passed my cursory examination for obvious signs of damage or spoilage and so I put them away and put myself to bed.

Several times the next day I came close to eating one of the brownies—at about 10 a.m., noon and 3 p.m.—but I was more intent on collecting a good load of returnable beverage containers.

When I finally made it to a recycling depot and after I had cashed in my load, I thought of the brownies again and offered one to a friend of mine—I knew he’d prefer pot but he also had a major sweet tooth.

He looked at the brownie and then at me and he grinned. Then he got all serious and told me that I could hurt someone. Didn’t I know that what I’d given him was a pot brownie.

No. No I didn’t but on closer examination there was some small print—smaller than the list of food ingredients: “Contains 50mg 9THC” and “For medical use only. Keep out of reach of children.”

Hot embarrassment shot through me. How naive! I naturally assumed that such a product would have unmistakably strong labeling, like: “Pot Brownie” or that the THC content would’ve had secondary prominence after the product name. But unless you looked closely, it was too easy to mistake it for an ordinary brownie. Just another example of why you should never blindly assume things.

As it was, the only people I would’ve offered the brownies to were fully grown adults—pretty much major pot heads all.

epic-brownie-02

I’m told that ingesting marijuana in a brownie is a chocolatey sort of body high.

I gifted all five of the brownies that I binned and in return I received nothing but glowing testimonials as to the potency of the THC. The friend I gave the first brownie to said that he shared it with someone and that they both got high. Everyone also said that the brownies were really moist and tasty!

Fine for them but I didn’t get any bedtime snacks. (Homelessness can be brutal.)

Anyway, if those “brownies” were anyway representative of the labeling standards for marijuana edibles then I can certainly understand and applaud Vancouver disallowing their legal sale.

As for councillor Melissa De Genova’s opposition to Vancouver’s scheme to legally licence medical marijuana-related businesses, I believe that it boils down to the fact that by going it alone, Vancouver is breaking federal law, and that’s just plain wrong as far as the conservative NPA politician is concerned.

She wants the city to wait until the federal government moves “to legalize, regulate and restrict access to marijuana and implements a new regulatory framework and system for marijuana sales and distribution.”

De Genova may think this looks a reasonable position now that Canada has a fresh, new government that’s on record as being committed to the legalization and regulation of marijuana—and maybe it is.

But remember that back in July, when Vancouver took matters into its own hands, the federal government of Stephen Harper was unalterably committed to keeping marijuana as a largely criminalized substance.

And keep in mind that in legalizing and regulating marijuana, the U.S. States of Washington and Colorado are also effectively breaking U.S. federal law.

And we should all consider how many lives would’ve been lost to drug overdoses had Vancouver and British Columbia failed to take the lead in setting up Insite in 2003 and instead waited for the federal government to pass laws allowing for safe injection sites.

Sometimes it’s just important that someone take the lead and begin to do the right thing. As the inimitable computer programmer Grace Hopper wrote: “If it’s a good idea, go ahead and do it. It is much easier to apologize than it is to get permission.”

Melissa De Genova isn’t saying legalization of marijuana isn’t a good idea, she’s saying that Vancouver had no business acting on its own, ahead of the federal government.

Well, the city did go ahead on its own and I expect that fact will help speed the federal legalization of marijuana rather than slow it down. I also have no doubt that should the Trudeau government make good on its promises that Vancouver will quickly bring its by-law in line with Ottawa’s legal framework to legalize and regulate marijuana.

I would have a lot more regard for councillor De Genova’s motion if it called for the city to pledge to do this, as well as, in the meantime, to reduce the criminally-high $30,000 that retail dispensaries must pay for a business licence.

As it is, I think she may just be grandstanding. Click the image to enlarge them.

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