Drugs & alcohol, Vancouver
A clever new nickname for Vancouver that I just heard recently. Let me dispel the rumours somewhat. Yes the laws towards marijuana are somewhat less strict here (and everyelse in Canada) than other parts of the world but I don't like it is quite Amsterdam, West. While most people know a guy who knows a guy, weed is not really seen (or smelled) excessively outisde of poor areas, rich areas,large crowds (Celebration of light etc.), samll crowds...Hell !who am I kidding?! The wacky tabacky is everywhere. There is a Cannabis cafe or two in the city as well check out the link below if that is your scene.
Note: As of September 16th, 2003 possesion of marijuana is essentially legal in B.C. because of a judges ruling
Cafe's no longer openly deal bud anymore (Da Kine is gone), but if you want to find where the 'stores' are (there's always a store operating somewhere) email wheretoscoreinvancouver(at)gmail.com it auto-responds with options.
You can smoke weed basically anywhere, just be somewhat low key. You'll see business guys out walking their dogs around Yaletown at night smoking, people in parks smoking around 4:20pm, people on the beach smoking, people in bars and clubs smoking (The Commodore let's you light up while the band is playing). July 1st is Cannabis Day at the Art Gallery, free weed all day + buy/sell. There's a ton of vapour lounges and smoke friendly cafe's, that are usually full of tourists (ever seen the movie Hostel where they note everybody in the dutch hash cafe's are american? yeah pretty much same thing here)
The BC Liquor Store is the cheapest place to buy. Alberni St store has coolers, and is cheaper than a Cold Beer & Wine store. Most bars also have 'Off Sales' meaning you can get beer to go.
You're not supposed to drink in public but this is almost never enforced as you'll see homeless drunks wandering around chugging cheap cans of malt liquor everywhere. Cops do however patrol the beach during the summer so simply throw the beer in a bag, and discreetly pour it into a non see thru cup or something.
Yes, that's right... a not-so-clever pun combining Vancouver with Amsterdam.
Apparently Vancouver produces some of the best quality marijuana in the world. It's also home to a strong pro-marijuana subculture and the headquarters of Canada's pro-marijuana activists who have even formed their own political party, the Marijuana Party!
Vancouver is the most liberal city in Canada when it comes to smoking marijuana. It's an activity that some people partake in, although it is done so discretely. People don't flaunt their marijuana smoking. They smoke it at home or with friends at the beach, at the park, or at concerts.
What you wouldn't normally see, for example, would be people walking down busy streets, smoking up a joint and passing it around. You might smell it ever so often, but you wouldn't necessarily see it.
Then there's 4:20 (April 20th), the day that pro-marijuana supporters gather on the steps of the Vancouver Art Gallery and rally for the legalization of marijuana. It can be quite entertaining!
Vancouver is also famous for its marijuana-themed stores and cafes where the customers are allowed to openly smoke it.
You have to bring your own.
Don't be fooled. Vancouver is not Amsterdam. There are maybe 2 or 3 of these shops still open. They remain open because of a legal loophole. You can't purchase marijuana from these shops or from any store, although they'd probably know of a source where you could get some.
Overall, I find that there tends to be a lot of misinformation on this issue, but while small quantities of marijuana are decriminalized in the province of British Columbia, it is still very much an illegal substance. If you're found smoking pot in Vancouver, the police won't arrest you. They're after the dealers and producers, not the smokers.
So that's the basics of Vancouver's marijuana culture. It exists. It's not considered a big deal. Nobody here really stresses over it or makes a fuss as most locals feel there are worse problems to worry about.
Beware that you cannot bring alcoholic drinks to public beaches in Vancouver. You will be liable to a fine.
I found it a good solution to a major problem that we face in my home country, Norway, where beach life and bathing without sandals as protection against glass shards from broken bottles is a major hazard.
Vancouver is located in the province of British Columbia where smoking in public spaces is illegal. This means that all restaurants, clubs and bars prohibit smoking. Up until the early part of the 21st century, you were allowed to choose between "smoking and non" in restaurants, but not anymore.
So what do smokers do in Vancouver?
If you're going to a restaurant and you're a smoker, you can only smoke outside or at their patio. Of course, not all restaurants have outdoor patios, so if you're determined to smoke while you eat, you'll have to specifically seek out restaurants with patios.
If you're going to a pub, club, or concert in Vancouver, some clubs (such as Richards on Richards or the Marble Arch) offer smoking rooms. These rooms are supposed to have sophisticated air filtering systems, although for the most part they feel as if you're walking into a hot box. Some people don't mind, but others find it disgusting because the room is often too smokey.
Some clubs do not have smoking rooms (like Honey, or Shine), however, they allow you to exit the club with a hand stamp so that you can smoke on the street and re-enter without having to pay cover again. Make sure you get that hand stamp before you leave the club or else you might not get back in!
Other places (like the Commodore Ballroom), have a smoking section roped off outside of their club, so that you must exit into this smoking section on the sidewalk in order for you to gain access back into the clubs.
As a result of these anti-smoking policies, smoking has become less common in Vancouver - it's not as much as a social phenomenon as it used to be in the past decades.