It's the Wild West for pot peddlers in Vancouver
Published Thursday, January 4, 2018 4:44PM PST
Last Updated Friday, January 5, 2018 12:14PM PST
You need a permit to sell Pad Thai on Vancouver’s Robson Square but peddling pot – no problem.
Over the last several months an open air drug market has been virtually allowed to flourish and grow in the square with little intervention by the City of Vancouver. This in what was supposed to be a family friendly area.
Any day of the week you can walk through a cloud of smoke and watch as people take hits off of bongs, light up joints or buy up cakes and baked goods infused with THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. The square is lined with tables and tents belonging to pot sellers who have not been granted permits or licences to be there.
“There is no licence,” said Kyle Levins while standing behind his table of pot goodies.
And that’s the problem.
Licensed vendors who have to pay the city more than $1,000 a year to occupy space on the square are fed up. Those who sell food to the public are subject to health inspections and would be shut down if they didn’t follow the rules.
“Oh you’d better believe it,” exclaimed Allister Fitsgerald who runs the Sauzzy Thai food truck along with his wife, Aree.
“Do they have a permit?” asked the man working in the Mr. Shawarma food truck at the other end of the square, pointing to the pot peddlers.
They don’t. Marijuana cakes, cookies and candy go unchecked. Vancouver Coastal Health says they’ve had no health complaints and won’t do anything about it, calling it a city issue.
So what action is the city taking?
“First we do a verbal warning, then a written warning and then a thousand dollar fine,” said Vancouver’s chief engineer Jerry Dobrovolny.
Levins says he has received two $1,000 fines yet he keeps coming back. So far the city says it’s issued about a dozen fines.
But every day more pot sellers show up.
The city does have the right to confiscate the goods. It’s taken the tents and tables to encourage the vendors to move on.
“We haven’t confiscated the pot,” Dobrovolny said.
Some of the pot sellers told CTV News their presence in the square is a protest. However, others freely admit they are there to earn a living, which is exactly what the licensed vendors are trying to do.
Those with licences say they’re tired of the dope double standard.
Some days Aree has to stop selling her Pad Thai and close up early because she says the smoke makes her dizzy and unable to work.
“It’s hard,” Fitsgerald said, sighing and shrugging his shoulders.