Out of Stock

Anakana Schofield

Canada legalised marijuana last month. On the way home from the optician on legalisation day, I decided to call into the Sunshine Wellness pot shop I’ve been visiting for the past few years to stock up on CBD oil. Pure CBD oil has no THC (the ingredient that makes you high) and is very useful for inflammation, pain, insomnia and dismay.

I was astonished to discover a big sign in the window thanking me (not personally) for the last four years. The shop was now shut and seeking to be regulated. Worse still, the counter displayed a number of posters advertising the conservative candidate running for mayor of Vancouver (he didn’t win).

Dismayed, I took to my phone and hoofed it four blocks west to a larger operation called Weeds. At Weeds, there was a short queue, someone filling out an application form, and several sales assistants wearing rather chic black rubber gloves.

A helpful rubber-gloved assistant explained they did not stock the CBD oil I am used to buying (for a modest $35 a bottle) but could offer me a better quality one that cost $150. The bottle was exactly the same size and while I am certain it is indeed superior, I don’t need anything superior.

On legalisation day, I assumed that, like the liquor stores operated by the provincial government, there would be oodles of government-operated pot shops all over the city. Mais non, the sales assistant told me. ‘So where is the government pot shop exactly?’ I asked him. ‘In Kamloops,’ he said. Kamloops, population 85,672, is three hours and forty minutes drive from Vancouver.

I phoned the government pot shop help line. Apparently Kamloops was the only municipality to have its zoning requirements and regulations ready before legalisation. Richmond, a suburb of Vancouver, has voted not to have any pot shops, private or government, despite a large recruitment advert I saw recently for jobs at the Marijuana Distribution Centre in Richmond.

The woman at the call centre explained I could use the online government pot shop. The next problem, aside from a threatened postal strike, was that the online government pot shop – which had received more than 10,000 orders in the first 24 hours – had sold out of the simple CBD oil I wanted. Seven days later, it was still out of stock.

And if I tried to procure my CBD oil by other means, such as the way I have been procuring it for the last few years, I would be doing so illegally. The plentiful pot shops operated in a legal grey area, I was informed.

I contacted the City of Vancouver (publicly) on Twitter:

Can you tell us when the first BC Govt pot shop will open in our city? Why wasn't all this organized before legalisation? Thank you.

The response sent (privately) to my direct messages on 31 October:

As of right now, no cannabis retail outlets have completed the process to obtain a provincial and municipal licence to operate in Vancouver. We do not have a timeline on when the first store will open as it will depend on the applicant completing the process and fulfilling all provincial and municipal requirements.

I have since enjoyed reading this entry in the FAQ on the online government pot shop:

Does BC Cannabis Stores have a loyalty program?
No, at this time there is not a loyalty program for regular customer (sic)


  • 27 November 2018 at 3:48am
    Bob Beck says:
    One of the funniest parts of this generally farcical roll-out of legal marijuana has been the political aspect. Interviewed on local (Vancouver) radio a few weeks ago, a Conservative Party spokesdroid quibbled with this or that feature of the Liberals' legalization strategy -- but refused to say that the Conservatives, if re-elected next year, would re-criminalize marijuana.

    To my disappointment, the radio host failed to follow up by asking "so, does the Conservative Party now support a harm-reduction strategy as a response to drug use?" We would probably have been able to hear, over the airwaves, the flack squirm in her seat as she attempted to avoid answering that one.

    This Conservative particularly objected to the government's plan to grant amnesty to those with a criminal record for simple possession. They shouldn't do this, she said, because "in many cases, a person had also committed a more serious offense, but that charge wouldn't stick". Marijuana users who've been arrested for it, then, should be regarded as so many Al Capones.

  • 27 November 2018 at 2:17pm
    Graucho says:
    From the late sixties onwards I have witnessed the effects of cannabis smoking on any number of friends, acquaintances and loved ones. At best I have seen them lose their edge, energy and at worst I have seen them sectioned. The one common thread being a state of denial that the drug was having any long term effects on them.
    In our measured, compromising British way, illegal drugs are classified according to perceived levels of harm. With the best of intentions, however, we have created a stairway to hell. Cannabis is a most dangerous drug, because people think it isn't.
    The important lesson from the tabacco experience is that once commercial interests get behind a narcotic, eradication becomes incredibly difficult no matter how overwhelming the evidence of harm is. Here we are more than 50 years after Doll and Hill's damning study and the tabacco industry have come up with e-cigarettes and vaping, which will prove far from harmless in the long run. I won't be around, but can confidently predict that, given legalisation, at some point in the future there will be a Doll and Hill study on cannabis and history will repeat itself.

  • 28 November 2018 at 3:53pm
    steve kay says:
    " Our measured, compromising British way" a quote from Dark Side of the Moon lyrics perhaps?

    I am very sorry for what Graucho appears to have witnessed, but find it utterly different from anything I or surviving pals have seen. Cannabis is wholly harmless compared with tobacco, alcohol, smack of dubious quality from a dangerous dealer, the mountains of coke once seen in finance as much as music, let alone legal drugs such as the epidemic of opoids being prescribed in the States or diazepam.

    Admittedly skunk is not exactly the best way to relax into listening to Pink Floyd or a Bruckner symphony, but organic grass eaten in a cake or if smoked certainly not mixed with tobacco must be almost completely harmless. The great argument in favour of legalisation is to remove the sale or exchange of cannabis from what is defined as criminal activity, a certain lesson here can be learned from the disastrously counter-productive prohibition of alcohol in the US.

    As for commercial interests, marijuana growing and sale need not fall into the hands of multi-nationals. The pattern here might be the healthy growth of micro-breweries and craft beer pubs. So until a certain sort of local coffee house opens, I'll now get the bus down into the town for a couple of pints of genuine local beer.

    Oh yes officer, a friend asked me to write this for her.