Activism Archive Legal Politics

VCBC Director at Large Stephen Pitner’s Speech to Victoria City Council

Stephen Pitner is a keystone member of the VCBC and the countless hours he has dedicated to the club and the cannabis movement make him an invaluable voice in the fight for medical marijuana patient’s rights.

Stephen has a record of advocating the needs of patients to local government and working on the ground level to see change happen in our city. On October 10, Stephen once again took the floor and addressed the Victoria City Council about the VCBC’s petition for a variance process to the Clean Air Bylaw no. 2014. You can find more information about this petition on the VCBC’s website,   

The lack of access to cannabis consumption spaces in British Columbia is abysmal. We are reknown for our cannabis world wide and yet our province continues to fall behind in creating spaces and environments where individuals can legally consume herb. 

Below is the speech Stephen delivered to City Council on October 10th.

Good evening my name is Stephen Pitner I live in Esquimalt.  I am a twenty plus year member of the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club and currently a Director at Large.             

First I would like to say thank you to the Lekwangan and Esquimalt nations, Mayor and city council for allowing me to speak today on this important issue in our community. 

I am a medical cannabis user and not a recreational user and feel slighted by the way cannabis legalization has been introduced in Canada. Cannabis has been legal in Canada for nearly a year and it would seem that there are still hurdles ahead regarding the use of it. 

 To this end, the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club has embarked on mission to poll the public with a petition.  In order to create a “variance “ for the Clean Air Bylaw no. 2014, for the purpose of allowing cannabis consumption facilities and events in the Capital Regional District.

I have been on various street corners in the core downtown where a good cross section of the C.R.D. catch the bus. I have been garnering signatures since late June and a learned experience it was. 

I found that there were a variety of reasons that people would sign. Many came readily, often with comments like “its about time,” others signed realizing some regulation was needed and a variance seemed a reasonable approach. A number of people signed solely because they did not like the smell and wished people would not blow it in their direction, hoping that if we were off  the street it would be better. Most of that group did not have a lot of sympathy for the recreational user but did about people that were using for medical reasons.

      I’m happy to say that of the signatures I collected I felt that it was a 60/40 split with the elder side of the coin 40-80 age group edging out the younger 19-40 age. Out of the whole there was a good 5-10% that signed purely for the medical aspect. 

    There was a disappointed group that could not sign due to non-resident status as the petition was restricted to the C.R.D. Although some of the tourists  wondered why we don’t have lounges and cafes yet since it has been legal for almost a year now. Some stated that in other countries, you have to do it indoors, like the “alcohol in bars or at home” rule. 

      To sum up my assessment, I feel that to create a “variance option” would only benefit a regulatory process allowing for assorted uses. It could be at a private compassion club or a public recreational lounge. Whether its a room in a nursing home, hospice or palliative care unit designated for the side effects of chemotherapy treatment, a licensing process with a variance will guide the standards. Communities will speak up during the license applications regarding use, location, ventilation, age requirements or hours of operation. We should have no fears to create a variance; it would only help iron out the community concerns.

Thank you for your time this evening. I hope you will take this sentiment and put it to good use.      

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