Drugs, tobacco & alcohol, Vancouver
Just remember, there is still the economic embargo of the United States against Cuba - so if you went to Canada and bought some Cuban cigar, make sure not to bring them back to the United States. Just smoke them before you get to the United States boarder.
I am sure, if you bring this and the US boarder patrol found out that you bring these products, these will be confiscated!
Just a warning to anyone who doesn't know how the liquor stores work in Vancouver.
You can only purchase alcohol in designated stores. You will not be able to purchase it in grocery outlets or corner stores like Safeway, IGA or Seven-11. You'll have to go to a BC Liquor Store, or a cold beer & wine store.
BC Liquor Stores are provincial government-run stores which have the best selection of wines, beer, and spirits anywhere in the city. That also means that they run on government-favoured time schedules and often close early. Some are open later than others, so it's best to check the hours ahead of time, before you visit.
Their hours and locations are listed on their website, provided below.
Cold Beer & Wine stores are private shops with normally less selection than liquor stores. Many visitors, I find, tend to frequent these stores and have no idea that liquor stores exist, and that they have better selection. However, cold beer & wine stores (sometimes called Offsales) tend to be open much later than liquor stores. As a result, many people have no other choice than to visit cold beer & wine stores. Unfortunately cold beer & wine stores often mark the prices up, much more than you'd pay if you were to purchase the same bottle at a BC liquor store.
I saw some teens from the USA in a cold beer & wine store on Saturday night, well after the BC liquor stores had closed. They were all counting their money, and making comments on how much they were going to pay per bottle, considering the exchange rate. I thought to myself, "they likely have no idea that they're purchasing booze from a more expensive store".
Also, you have to be 19 years old in order to legally purchase alcohol, anywhere in BC. Stores and restaurants tend to be strict and will often request 2 pieces of photo ID before they serve you.
My friends in Vancouver were not born yesterday and are for the most part, scared of nothing! Although, they personally were not scared of Gastown per say....they didn't want me going anywhere near it without at least two of them. I went, I saw, I shopped. It does feel a bit like the most seedy part of New Orleans you can find. I don't mean people running around naked seedy, I mean don't go down that alley alone seedy. Just a heads up.
One of the problems Vandu (vancouver area network of drug users) has is trying to change rooming house rules and find places there people can go. Vancouver has no more druggies than any other city. So why are they everywhere?
The difference is that in Vancouver, There are guest fees and visiting times in almost EVERY rooming house. For example the rooming house I live in you MUST show picture ID to visit. Visiting hrs are 9am 'till 10 pk, 11 on weekends. No overnights, even if my mom came to visit from Toronto. This is not the worst. Some places charge up to $20 for a guest to visit. These fees are illegal, but put up with , why, I am unaware of.
My point being, people cannot socialise while doing drugs indoors, and just like drinking, most do not like to indulge alone, at least to start. They get pushed out of alleys and gated out of shadows and doorways. It is not because they don't care if the children see them, in fact usually a cry of "kids coming thru" is heard when little one are passing. They try to hide the traficing and most stop doing their drugs so the children won't see. We are all someones child as well. And many are someones parent.
Remember this please as you journey thru our beautiful city. We aren't proud of our drug use. We have no reason to want to be out in the open except human contact. We are given unacceptable options and that is the one many chose after realising the horrific lonelyness that can grab you here.
If you're a smoker, you better quit before going to Vancouver. Not only have prices of cigarettes gone up in BC (about $10 CDN/pack) but it is now a city bylaw that you can not smoke on any public streets in Vancouver (punishable by a fine up to $60 CDN). The only places you can smoke are designated patios, inside your home, or on private property. You can't even smoke in night clubs (how crappy is that?!?)
We didn't expect to find our inn in Vancouver will border with local slum type of place. Patricia Inn, a middle class motel, is located on Hastings street, just 100 meters away from what I call a SLUM, it's a TRASH, TRASH, TRASH, NOT FOR YOU!!! Not for normal people, DO TRUST ME!!! But if you indeed look for some extreme scenes and pictures, and your nervous are strong and tight, be prepared to face people of all ages dirty, selling, taking, injecting drugs just in front of you, in front of police! Moreover, there is a police historical museum is just across the street. I was REALLY shocked when I saw a 20-23 y.o. addict trembling all over his body. A police officer was standing in front of him. She glanced once and didn't do a motion. I looked at her, she was calmed looking around as if nothing serious was happening.
On northern walls of Patricia Inn we saw a sign saying that territory around (the hotel) was monitored by John ***. Well, what can I say. We parked our bike at a light pole of Patricia Inn's front door, and when we came back we simply didn't find our bike!! It was STOLEN!! Of course, receptionist wouldn't know who stole our bike and he couldn't help us. BAD LUCk, we thought!
I doubt there are more places like the Hasting Street in Vancouver, but what I do know now is that it's not safe here.
We all know any big city has poor strolling around, sleeping, and even living on the streets! We think it's normal and we take it. What had really drawn my attention is Amount of homeless people in Vancouver with their own carts (!). Just think of this! I wonder if they name the carts?! I recognized carts from Safeway and 7/11, and I'm sure there were some other store brands in their collection!
Besides these amazing things that I share with you here, there’ve been some nice and *really* nice places we visited today. I may write about those in my next visit.
Have fun and enjoy your trip to Vancouver, BC!
Vancouver has a reputation for high-quality weed. WARNING: Be prepared for slow-moving, happy people who call each other 'dude.'