The Toronto Star reported on a cannabis dispensary in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver. The dispensary runs an opioid substitution program. It works in partnership with the department of psychology at the University of British Columbia.

The opiate study program co-ordinator for Eden Medicinal Society, Denise Brennan, stated that after about six months the set-up in Eden Medicinal Society will be unable to afford to stay open, especially without a business license or a development permit. These were both denied with the current bylaws that do not allow the dispensaries to work within 300 metres of one another.

Brennan stated, “It’s quite an expensive, intensive program… It’s more than $5,000 a month just to have the doors open, so in the absence of any way to generate revenue — because we can’t get a business licence to do that — it’s not possible to maintain long term.”

The City of Vancouver stated that the East Hastings Eden site is not a licensed Compassion Club. Therefore, it operates with land use approval. That makes the current operation illegal. That it is, by implication “under enforcement action by the city for operating without a license.”

The location has not sold any cannabis on site for profit since opening. Rather, it focuses on the provision of cannabis for patients. That is part of the research initiative with UBC. Medical cannabis dispensaries have two options for application for permits and licenses.

One is the Medical marijuana Retail Use License, which is available for selling medical cannabis to the “broader public.” The other is a Compassion Club license. The latter is far cheaper. It is available for those operations that provide more health services to members alone.

With the harm reduction mandate of Eden, both licenses do not cover it. In fact, they do not cover the various needs of the Downtown Eastside.

Brennan, in description of the Eden program, explained, “It’s a very, very different model from just going in and grabbing your drugs… One of the things we’re doing here is mitigating social isolation… We’re creating a safe space for people to come in and say, ‘I’m struggling. I’m having a human experience.’” It is a common story.

Brennan stated, bleakly, that the location may not survive past the end of the current month. There is a change with the incoming cannabis as a tool for harm reduction mentality in th government.  One methodology could be the cannabis to replace opioids therapy, or the cannabis-based opioid substitution therapy.

“I think there are various ways to combat (opioid addiction),” she said. “I’m not saying cannabis is the ultimate solution. I’m saying cannabis is a significant harm-reduction option, and one that appeals to people.”

Scott Jacobsen

Scott Jacobsen


(Last Update: September 28, 2016)

Scott Douglas Jacobsen researches and presents independent panels, papers, and posters, and with varied research labs and groups, and part-time in landscaping (lifting, mowing, and raking) and gardening (digging, planting, and weeding). He is the Founder of In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal and In-Sight Publishing. UCI Ethics Center awarded him with the distinction of Francisco Ayala Scholar (2014) for mentoring, presenting, researching, and writing. If you want to contact Scott, you may inquire or comment through e-mail:

He published in American Enterprise InstituteAnnaborgiaConatus NewsEarth Skin & EdenFresh Start Recovery CentreGordon Neighbourhood HouseHuffington PostIn-Sight: Independent Interview-Based JournalJolly DragonsKwantlen Polytechnic University Psychology DepartmentLa Petite MortLearning Analytics Research GroupLifespan Cognition Psychology LabLost in SamaraMarijuana Party of CanadaMomMandyNoesis: The Journal of the Mega SocietyPiece of MindProduction ModeSynapseTeenFinancialThe PeakThe UbysseyThe Voice MagazineTransformative DialoguesTreasure Box KidsTrusted Clothes.

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