High society's pot revenues prompt city demands for 4/20 payments
Financial documents obtained by CTV News show millions in revenue for a Vancouver pot shop society and have prompted more demands from the City of Vancouver for organizers of the sprawling 4/20 event to pay its costs.
High marijuana incomes are a sign that pot protest is profitable, said Park Board Commissioner John Coupar, adding that he expects the total money spent on police, fire, park cleanup and other costs to be more than $300,000 this year.
“It was definitely the biggest so far. I would love to see them write us a cheque. We could do a lot with that. Gardeners, lifeguards, all kinds of things the city taxpayers are on the hook for,” Coupar told CTV News.
Coupar was reacting to the reported income of Cannabis crusader Dana Larsen’s Vancouver Dispensary Society: $7.3 million in 2017, or about $20,000 per day. The “net income” of the society is about $640,000, according to profit and loss statements obtained by CTV News.
That’s more than double the revenue in 2015, the documents show. In that year, the society recorded $3.1 million in revenue, and a net loss of $176,000. Total assets rose from $448,000 in 2015 to $1.025 million, the documents show.
“I’m not an accountant but it seems like they have a good cash flow,” Coupar said.
The Vancouver Dispensary Society runs two storefronts in Vancouver and is distinct from the organization that runs 4/20. Larsen personally is an organizer of the event, and said his society does subsidize the event, which he says often loses money.
“As a non-profit society we donate our profits into our community,” he said. He said the rise in assets was likely a reflection of the inventory that he had kept on hand in case of sudden changes in the grey market product.
“We are in a volatile industry. We take on a lot of risks, including having had to shut down one of our locations recently,” he said.
The Hastings Street location is now a “harm reduction” venue and no longer sells pot, to comply with a court order that the city’s dispensaries follow city and provincial rules.
But Larsen’s Thurlow location is still open as it applies for a city licence. He is planning an appeal of the court ruling and said the shutdown would affect this year’s revenues.
Larsen said the 4/20 organizers had paid some costs in 2017 and 2018, but refused to pay for policing. The city invoiced 4/20 about $170,796 for its share of costs, including policing.
“The reality is that policing costs are out of control. Trying to pay policing costs is a dead end. Directing our charity revenues towards a policing cost is not something we want to do,” Larsen said.
The total cost of the 2017-2018 events for taxpayers was about $583,784, the city has said. But it’s not clear how much revenue the event itself gets, said Vancouver City Councillor Melissa De Genova.
She introduced a motion at city council which referenced the fees advertised by 4/20, including logos offered for display or on social media channels at prices up to $5,000. She also referenced prices for 294 vendor booths, at prices up to $1,000 each.
“I don’t know how many protests have live broadcast opportunities for $25,000 with your company logo to show up onstage,” De Genova said.