Vancouver drug harm-reduction group High Hopes applies to open Downtown Eastside cannabis store

The shop will have cannabis for retail as well as stock to be given out free

Community Cannabis is planned to open at 60 East Hastings Street.


A Vancouver drug harm-reduction group dedicated to providing people in the Downtown Eastside with alternatives to hard drugs is going into cannabis retail.

High Hopes has filed a development application with city hall to open a store in the neighbourhood.

The proposed shop at 60 East Hastings Street will be called Community Cannabis.

According to an “operational letter” submitted by High Hopes as part of its application, Community Cannabis will not only have cannabis for retail.

Its stock will also include “subsidized” cannabis that is not for resale, as well as free cannabis for research purposes.

Operations at Community Cannabis will be a joint effort by various organizations.

“Staffing of retail location will be managed by Downtown Eastside Economic Development Association with referrals by Raincity Housing, Atira Foundation, Overdose Prevention Society, Exchange Inner City and other non-profit organizations in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside,” according to the operational letter by High Hopes.

The document also stated that staffing of research projects at the site will be managed separately by UBC, the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, and the B.C. Centre for Substance Use for their individual projects.

High Hopes was started in 2017 by former Vancouver park commissioner Sarah Blyth.

The group offered cannabis donated by local cannabis shops at nonprofit prices as an alternative for people who were using hard drugs.

About a month before Canada legalized cannabis for recreational use in October 2018, Vancouver Police Department officers seized products brought by High Hopes to an outdoor market in the neighbourhood.

In 2016, during the height of the drug-overdose crisis, Blyth and other volunteers set up a tent in the Downtown Eastside where people could inject drugs under supervision.

The unauthorized injection site became the Overdose Prevention Society, which has been recognized for saving numerous lives.

Blyth is identified in High Hopes’ operational letter as its authorized witness in the “destruction and disposal of sample cannabis” from the store.

On its website, High Hopes says that the retail store will be a “social enterprise”.

“Community Cannabis is a cannabis retail store with social impact built into its core operations,” according to the group.

With the business, High Hopes aims to build a “sustainable and resilient community”. According to the group, 20 to 30 percent of Community Cannabis’s profits will help fund research benefiting the Downtown Eastside community.

The city will receive comments from the public about the development application until June 15, 2020.

Follow Carlito Pablo on Twitter at @carlitopablo


  • Norman McKinnon June 11, 2020 02:25 PM

    Just what society needs … more stoned drug users. What happened to Nancy Reagan’s … “Just say no to drugs” Campaign. 12 Step Programs show the best way is abstinence. If you don’t take drugs, your life & health will undoubtedly improve. It’s not Rocket Science!

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