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Pot shop adds gift cards

By Ada Slivinski, 24 Hours Vancouver

BC Pain Society gifts cards, which can only be bought with cash. ADA SILVINSKI, 24 hours

BC Pain Society gifts cards, which can only be bought with cash. ADA SILVINSKI, 24 hours

The BC Pain Society is now selling gift cards to be redeemed for dried marijuana, hash or accessories like rolling papers from one of their vending machines. Gift cards can only be bought with cash and loaded with amounts up to $1,000.

While the person purchasing the card doesn’t need a membership or doctor’s note, those redeeming it will need to have one, a membership card to the BC Pain Society or another dispensary, or a provided form signed by a notary public indicating they plan to use marijuana to treat a medical condition. The provided form also absolves the society of “all liability however caused.”

Previously, society owner Chuck Varabioff said memberships were only given out to those with a doctor’s note, but he has since allowed other forms of verification. As part of the process, he also has potential members sit down with a staff nurse, who educates them about “safe and responsible use of marijuana.”

“We feel that is more beneficial for our patients than just a signature on a piece of paper and that’s why we’ve adopted a new policy,” said Varabioff.

Vancouver Police Department spokesman Brian Montague said in an email that, “It is illegal to possess marijuana without a license from Health Canada. Those who engage in illegal behaviour run the risk of unwanted police attention and also run the risk of arrest.”

Varabioff said since the society launched its first vending machine, membership numbers have gone up from 300 to 2,000, and though he wouldn’t provide a specific dollar figure, he said business is booming.

However, smoking in the society lounge is no longer permitted as Varabioff said the smoke was negatively affecting the health of staff. He said he himself has had to go on steroids to counteract the effects of smoke inhalation. 

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