Residents of Calgary, Alberta are pushing back against proposals to set up dispensaries in the city's Chinatown. Opponents say cannabis businesses don't align with the community's traditional Chinese values.
Jason Luan of Alberta's United Conservative Party is spearheading the initiative against the cannabis dispensary proposals in Chinatown - a district located in the northeast section of downtown Calgary. Luan has teamed up with nearly 50 other Chinatown residents to launch a petition to block dispensaries from opening in their area.
"Our stand is that this is not a healthy lifestyle, this is not something we should promote," Luan told The Star Calgary. "For a community that promotes positive contributions to Canada, this is not something we want to have."
Some supporters say they aren't opposed to dispensaries specifically so much as they are concerned that cannabis itself simply doesn't work with Chinese value systems.
"We don’t assume [cannabis] will bring unsavory elements, but we do propose no cannabis stores because it does not align with our culture," said May Han of the Calgary Chinese Union.
People from outside of the Chinese community in Calgary have also rallied behind the dispensary ban, saying it's important to think about the concerns of the residents.
"We can see that there is a lot of concern from the older generation and their children," said protestor Byron Price. "There’s lots of cannabis shops all over the place, why does there have to be one here?"
The answer could be that Chinatown is close to the city's bustling downtown core, making it a convenient location for shoppers passing through the neighborhood. But the petition could bring policymakers and residents together to come up with a compromise that caters to consumers while also respecting the wishes of Calgary's vibrant Chinese community.