News Local

Vancouver medical pot stores growing like weeds

By Stefania Seccia

Don Briere is the owner of 11 Weeds Glass & Gifts medical marijuana pot dispensaries in Vancouver and is eyeing three more locations across B.C. thanks to a legal grey area and demand for his products.
(Stefania Seccia, 24 hours)

Don Briere is the owner of 11 Weeds Glass & Gifts medical marijuana pot dispensaries in Vancouver and is eyeing three more locations across B.C. thanks to a legal grey area and demand for his products. (Stefania Seccia, 24 hours)

Don Briere has hardly any time to stay in one place to chat because of the demand his Weeds Glass & Gifts chain store is serving.

What skyrocketed Briere into notoriety in 2004 - opening up the Da Kine cafe on Commercial Drive that was dramatically raided by SWAT teams - has now turned into a prosperous business over the last 17 months as he’s opened a chain of 11 medical marijuana dispensaries in Vancouver. He’s now eyeing three more in the near future across municipalities in B.C.

And the more than 40 dispensaries in Vancouver are operating thanks to a fertile mixture including a legal grey area with federal legislation regarding medical marijuana distribution, and several related cases making their way through the courts.

“We’re contributing to society,” Briere said. “We support the police 100%. What we’re not doing is buying guns, heroine and cocaine.”

One of Briere’s stores was recently targeted by an armed robber looking to score free pot – making away with a few hundred dollars worth of weed. Although it’s a rare case, he said the incident has led him to increase security measures.

Stores such as Briere’s have sprung up quickly as they operate in a commercial space and the city is reluctant to come down on them because they have to be consistent with federal law, according to Vancouver Coun. Kerry Jang.

Jang likened medical pot dispensaries popping up like Starbucks did as it has become a form of “mainstream business,” despite there being no business licence category for it.

“(Stores) opening up across Vancouver ... suggests there’s a demand across the city,” he said.

Const. Brian Montague, Vancouver Police Department spokesman, said the simple answer is these stores are illegal, marijuana is illegal, but the execution of the law has become complex.

“We’re dealing with individuals that are operating businesses that are unlicensed, unregulated and providing product that has no quality control,” he said. “But our priority is those individuals participating in violent crime.”

Poll

Should Vancouver police shut down medical pot dispensaries

Reader's comments »

By adding a comment on the site, you accept our terms and conditions