Questions arise about future of Vancouver stores selling magic mushrooms – BC

No magic at city council for Vancouver mushroom dispensaries as retail framework rejected - BC

Confusion remains about the future of retail stores selling magic mushrooms in Vancouver after city council shot down a proposal to craft a regulatory framework for the businesses.

“I think council made the right decision on that,” councillor Mike Klassen told Global News.

“It was a case of we have a product that is essentially still illegal. And this is not the place, city council chamber, to be trying to wage a debate on the legality of a substance.”

Klassen said the framework should be established at a federal level.

“The future of the dispensaries is really up in the air,” he said. “We have to talk to our business license department (and) kind of figure out what their strategy is, and first council will listen to that and sort of see if there is a way to take action in going forward.”

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The rejection came a month after a hearing panel voted to reinstate the business licence of a retail store operated by drug activist Dana Larsen that sells magic mushrooms and other psychoactive entheogens in the city.

Click to play video: 'Vancouver city council rejects magic mushroom motion'

Vancouver city council rejects magic mushroom motion

Klassen said that the council’s vote sends a signal to operators of stores that sell magic mushrooms that they are participating in activity that is not allowed.

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However, he did not know how a business that does not have a licence can get a storefront and operate.

“At the end of the day, we have to make sure that we are aware of it,” Klassen said. “And, of course, some of these stores are keeping a low profile. Probably you don’t really know from the outside. At the end of the day, they have to be very aware of the fact that they’re selling and distributing products that are not legal. And so that means eventually, that, somebody is going to have to address that.”

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Larsen told Global News that if his store was a problem, the police would have raided it earlier.

“We have three locations,” he said. “One of them’s got the business licence locked in thanks to that city council decision. Here (East Hastings), they renewed our licence every year from 2020 until last year that they decided not to renew it. I don’t really know what changed their mind, but we’re in court over the licence here, and we’re going to be having some issues at our Granville location over licensing there.”

Larsen said his three locations are a small portion of the more than 20 stores in the city selling similar merchandise.

“It is bizarre,” he said. “It’s a strange situation all around. They got to acknowledge the reality. And I think making rules and licences, it’s better for the city. And it’s not really better for the mushroom dispensary operators. It actually makes our lives more complicated to get a business licence.”

Click to play video: 'Vancouver magic mushroom dispensary gets business licence back'

Vancouver magic mushroom dispensary gets business licence back

Vancouver councillor Pete Fry told Global News that he had introduced the motion to look at forming a regulatory framework around the sale of psilocybin and entheogens.

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“So what we’re looking at is essentially a scenario that was very similar to what happened in 2015, when the City of Vancouver came forward with a cannabis licencing framework three years before it was legalized by the federal government,” he said.

“Because we recognize that people are buying cannabis, they’re buying them at the stores. Some stores are operating in a good way, some are operating in a little bit more of a sketchy way.”

Fry said while the confusion continues, the city should make a decision about what to do with stores selling magic mushrooms.

“Let’s end the uncertainty at the very least,” he said. “But, the will of council was not to pursue that.”

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