Some Moncton medical marijuana dispensaries facing potential criminal charges if they don’t shut down say they will continue to serve their customers.
“We want to make sure that our patients are provided safe, dignified access (to marijuana) whatever the repercussions would be,” said Jordan Johnson, who manages Tasty Budds medicinal marijuana dispensary in Riverview, N.B.
His was one of several dispensaries issued a letter last Friday by RCMP giving him 14 days to shut down or face possible criminal charges.
As a member of a group called the International Alliance for Cannabis of Canada, he met with his colleagues in Moncton on Tuesday to plan their next move.
The group says they want to work with government to open the door for dispensaries to become regulated distributors of medical cannabis, as opposed to the product used for recreational use.
“The medical dispensaries are strictly trying to provide people direct and dignified and safe access to their medication. We don’t deal with recreational. We don’t deal with children. It is 19 and up. We ID every body,” Johnson said.
At least three of Moncton’s medical marijuana dispensaries including Tasty Budds, Nova Meds and Green Cross Medical say they will continue to serve their patients despite threats of being arrested by RCMP.
Stephen Fenety, who represents Green Shield Medical, acknowledges they are operating illegally and outside of Health Canada regulations. He has shut down his operation in the meantime, until he consults a lawyer.
But the group says they are operating legitimate businesses, and the province has been more than willing to accept their tax dollars.
“I am not a criminal for what I have done but I am still under pressure of becoming one in the days before it is to become legal anyway,” said Fenety.
“Where do we go and what do we do and how do we stay open without being thrown in jail for doing it?”
The alliance suggests the province allow legitimate dispensaries to become highly regulated professional distributors of medical cannabis, along with licensed producers such as Organigram, which is based in Moncton.
When asked if he was open to the idea of working with dispensaries, Premier Brian Gallant said he could not comment on the specific dispensaries that the RCMP have “taken action on.”
“We want to make sure that we listen to all people that are in the industry already that have some concerns with how we go about this and that’s why we put a legislative committee in place to listen to New Brunswickers,” Gallant said.
Johnson says some patients need a storefront to go to for advice instead of buying their product online. or through provincial retail store once cannabis is legal.
“It is so unfair for a medical patient to have to go to a recreation store where there is a line-up of 30 people who are just trying to get high when they are trying to access their medication,” he said.
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