Nova Scotia dispensary owners say they aren’t about to throw in the towel yet and feel federal legislation has provided a way for them to co-exist alongside recreational retail stores.
Chris Enns, owner of Farm Assists Medical Cannabis Resource Centre in Halifax, doesn’t plan to shut his doors before or after recreational marijuana is legalized on Oct. 17.
He says his dispensary serves only those with medical marijuana licenses and that even though Nova Scotia has opted to sell the soon-to-be legal drug through NSLC stores, he has reason to believe shops like his could stay in business going forward.
“We were very encouraged to see that the federal government has legislated a very specific class of dealers – those that will be allowed to sell to medical cannabis patients,” he said of the Federal Cannabis Act.
“But in effect, they’ve left it in the hands of the provinces with respect to how that will be rolled out.”
Enns says the planned public retail model has a lack of access to specific types of cannabis used as medicine.
If he and other owners, who have now come together as the Nova Scotia Medicinal Association of Cannabis Dispensaries, had their way, they would bridge the gap in access they say will continue to exist post-legalization.
“Medical cannabis patients need to be able to access derivatives in many shapes and forms and those derivatives have simply not been legislated in the current distribution scheme,” he said.
“If we’re going to make reasonable access available to those who are the sickest among us, then it’s incumbent upon the provinces to move forward in making legislation that will allow those current brick and mortar stores that are serving those that are medically licensed.”
Admittedly, getting the government to allow them to continue to exist won’t be an easy or quick argument.
Enns indicated they will lobby the province for the right to help medical users with their cannabis needs and become a legitimate organization in the eyes of the province and regulators.
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“Nearly 100 years ago when as a country we were moving away from alcohol, prohibition things were very tight at first and then we opened up the doors. Those that were licensed producers of alcohol were now able to sell that product directly to the consumer,” he said.
“It’s our simple hope that the Nova Scotia government will develop legislation to allow that to happen.”
The association plans to host a forum at the Halifax Public Library on June 3 at 7 p.m. They’ve invited MLAs and community members to attend and hear directly from them on the issues facing medical marijuana patients.
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