Members of a group called the International Alliance for Cannabis of Canada gathered in Moncton on Friday hoping to drum up support to convince the federal government and Health Canada to make it legal for storefront dispensaries to sell medical marijuana.
Adam Renowden started the alliance in October and says he already has more than 200 members.
Renowden told Global News on Friday that the organization is hoping this will draw attention and motivate people to join their cause.
“(It’s) to show support to show that the local people really want dispensaries open and they really want a free and fair market. They don’t want a monopolization they want choice,” he said.
Until cannabis is legalized, the only legal way to buy medical marijuana is through a licensed producer that ships the product to patients with valid prescriptions.
Renowden says that needs to change.
“All medical patients, especially the low-income, they can’t wait the four-day wait time. They can’t smell it. They don’t know what they are getting,” he said.
The group says dispensaries want to become legally licensed distributors and are open to having their products tested by Health Canada.
Renowden says limiting patients to filling their prescriptions solely through Canada’s 76 licensed producer limits access for lower-income patients who can’t afford to buy larger quantities and limits choice
“We are going to have a few producers. They are going to mass produce and we are going to get stuck with what we get stuck with and we are not going [have] any competition at all,” he said.
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Three weeks ago, RCMP in Moncton issued letters to eight marijuana dispensaries saying they had two weeks to shut down or face possible criminal charges.
RCMP spokesperson Const. Jullie Rogers-Marsh said that no arrests have been made despite the deadline passing a week ago.
Marty Robichaud, who manages a dispensary called Green Cross Medical, got one of the letters but chose to stay open.
Robichaud said he made the decision to “provide dignified access to the medical patients that we serve on a regular basis so they can continue to have that access.”
He said dispensary operators are fighting to stay open because they deserve a piece of the pie and have superior product knowledge that can help the government educate people about the benefits of medicinal cannabis.
“We would love nothing more than for the federal government to say we will allow medical marijuana dispensaries,” Robichaud said.
Global News reached out to Health Canada and is waiting for comment on the matter.
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