SAVE OUR DISPENSARIES
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On behalf of cannabis dispensaries of the Maritime provinces, as citizens and residents of Canada, we call upon The Government of Canada to immediately:
1) End the police raids against local cannabis dispensaries
2) Grant amnesty to all Canadian citizens previously convicted of cannabis possession or cultivation, and eliminate previous related records
3) Enable municipal regulation of local dispensaries, rather than through the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation
4) Implement cannabis education programs and access
5) Distinguish medical and recreational patients and consumers when referring to and distributing cannabis
Dispensary owners and employees believe in cannabis as a proven form of natural medicine and their goal is to provide cannabis patients with a safe, knowledgeable, trustworthy, and convenient environment in which to purchase their medication. Dispensaries strive to bring their patients the best quality products, compassionate pricing with cheaper strains, and a variety of edibles and CBD products.
The staff of our local dispensaries are very passionate about what they are doing and are very happy to help the patients they can. The majority of the staff are medical cannabis patients themselves, which is what brought them to the cannabis industry to begin with. They have all experienced the benefits of cannabis, and are very knowledgeable in terms of the medicinal cannabis they are providing. The staff care about what they are giving their patients and the amounts that they are consuming. Every individual reacts differently to cannabis, therefore it is essential that each individual patient gets the time and attention they need and find a specific cannabis product to treat their individual conditions. Staff will go to all lengths to make sure their patients get the medicine they need. They truly care about the health and safety of their patients.
With that being said, dispensaries grew into something more than medical dispensaries: communities, and families. Many of the patients and staff have formed close, trusted relationships, and are on first name basis with one another. Patients bring the staff tea, coffee, baked goods, and even hot meals. The atmosphere inside of dispensaries is like no other, with people ranging from ages 19-90, from all areas of the province, there is always diversity of patients in need. Patients of all ages and economic classes thank the staff of dispensaries daily for being there and fighting for their need for medical cannabis, showing the staff the real need for local dispensaries and thus motivating them to stay open.
As cannabis is currently the only form of medication prescribed by Health Canada that patients cannot purchase in person, [illegal] dispensaries are the only safe place that allow patients to look at, smell, and touch their medical cannabis before purchasing it. The patients can ask questions until they find a strain of flower, or possibly another form of cannabis to suit their chronic ailments and or conditions. Some medical cannabis patients are unable to physically smoke cannabis and therefore must consume cannabis in a different form. The best option for non-smokers, come in a concentrate, oil, or edible form. Local dispensaries offer superior quality cannabis in a variety of forms and the staff make sure the patients find what they need. Allowing patients the freedom of choice of many different strains and forms of cannabis allows for the patients to have more control over the medication they are consuming. Many people have reported to replacing their pharmaceutical prescriptions with medicinal cannabis.
Medical awareness is a human right. The public needs to be more aware of the benefits of medical cannabis, and see it as more a medicine than an illegal “drug”. Cannabis dispensaries are not a cover to sell “drugs”, nor do all medical cannabis dispensaries have connections to large organized crime. In fact, dispensaries actually aid in keeping cannabis related crime off of the streets as they provide a safe and convenient place for patients to get their cannabis medication. Patients have reported that not one person in the North End of Halifax is selling cannabis on the streets because of their local dispensary. Without dispensaries, the cannabis market will go back underground, sending patients of all ages to the streets. It will not be possible to protect children and youth from underage cannabis exposure and consumption in the black market as street dealers are not asking for 19+ government issued identification as dispensaries are.
There are many gray areas around cannabis dispensaries. Contrary to what the news and media may lead the general public to believe, cannabis dispensaries are run like businesses. Most of the dispensaries in the province are locally owned, small businesses. Local and small businesses keep our province running and keep families afloat. Many consumers prefer to buy local food and goods from trusted businesses, the same goes for cannabis. Dispensaries are local and small businesses that create jobs, and provides jobs for those with chronic conditions where the laws around cannabis consumption have restricted their careers to the point they cannot maintain work in other fields. Dispensaries create jobs to provide the clearly needed local, affordable, and safe access to medical cannabis. Dispensaries are the true “Cannabis Crusaders.”
Not many people going into dispensaries are aware that it is still illegal to purchase cannabis from anywhere other than one’s licensed producer, which is only available online. It is illegal for anyone to purchase and carry their medication that they purchase from a dispensary, criminalizing the patients with the staff the moment they make the transaction.
Many people that go in, purchase less than ten dollars of cannabis at a time as that is all they can afford. Online licensed producers will not allow an order of less than five grams which is close to $50, and in addition to that cost, taxes and shipping apply to most orders which can amount to upwards of $25. Medical cannabis is not yet covered by any medical plans in Canada. Some online licensed producers will offer compassion pricing, but it does not compare to the coverage current medical plans apply to pharmaceuticals. Local dispensaries allow for patients to purchase their medication in smaller quantities and do not charge any sort of shipping or packaging fees. Therefore patients are able to go into their local storefront dispensaries and get the medication they need according to what they can afford. Most places offer cannabis strains ranging between $5.50 and $10.00 per gram, but will sell as little as the patients need. It is impossible to do this with online licensed producers. It will be impossible to do this upon legalization with corporations selling cannabis with profit in mind rather than the patients needs.
In light of the many recent police raids and closures of local dispensaries across the Maritime provinces, patients have become more aware of the unavailability of their medication in event that dispensaries are closed down. There will be no option for patients that cannot afford to order online between the dispensary closure dates and legalized storefront openings, other than the black market - the streets. This is in connection with another widespread concern that there will be a shortage of medical cannabis upon legalization when patients will have to rely on government licenced producers whom have still yet to implement any sort of solid plan or give reassurance to patients. Many of the patients that rely on local storefront dispensaries will be very sick if there is a shortage of medical cannabis. The need for affordable and accessible medical cannabis is very real and evident in the Maritimes as there are thousands of patients who break the law to get their medication every day.
The staff of dispensaries are under constant threat of not just raids by the police, where charges would be faced, but also robberies in which they could not report to the police in fear of the charges they would themselves get, thus leaving dispensaries an unprotected target for theft and possible violence. Without legalization with regulation and transparency of local dispensaries, the black market will thrive and sales and crimes will be unaccounted for as they have been in the past.
There are so many people in our budding cannabis industry that are so passionate about helping patients that they operate dispensary storefronts despite the threats from the law and potential dangers of theft. This is clear across the country as there are so many illegal dispensaries currently in business. Some dispensaries are able to operate without any police attention, however, some, along with their patients, are targeted.
Halifax Regional Police insist they are protecting minors from sales, and will continue to harass patients for identification. All dispensaries require a government issued identification card stating the person is 19+ for entry, and like tobacco companies, the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation, and other 19+ [adult] stores, dispensaries are unable to control the sales of products to minors upon leaving the storefront.
We feel that the Halifax Regional Police resources could be better allocated than raiding medical cannabis dispensaries and furthermore sitting outside of dispensaries, scaring away patients and employees. There are real and very dangerous crimes happening in this city, not to mention how many go unsolved.
The same government that is charging dispensary staff members will be in almost the same market in less than a year from now when legalization comes.
The recent news of the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation taking position to sell cannabis upon legalization comes as a shock to a lot of cannabis users.
Cannabis and alcohol should never be grouped together as they are completely different. Many medical cannabis patients do not even consume alcohol and use cannabis to help to quit alcohol not to mention harder drugs. There are cannabis users that consume cannabis to treat post traumatic stress disorder associated with alcoholism. It does not make sense to sell cannabis and alcohol under the same roof. It is sending a messages to consumers to combine alcohol and cannabis, which could be unsafe.
It seems the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation cannabis plan is focused on recreational consumers and profit, rather than medical cannabis patients. There is a huge difference and it should be addressed by our government. There is a huge market for recreational cannabis however it seems that medical cannabis will not be recognized or accessible with the focus of the recreational sales.
The staff of Nova Scotia liquor stores are very pressed for time to learn about cannabis before the change, which is very dangerous in terms of consumption. The staff of local dispensaries are already very knowledgeable and experienced from seed to sale, and personal experiences, knowledge that cannot be obtained from rushed training courses in less than one year. Dispensaries, along with their partners, suppliers, staff, and patients are the real cannabis experts when it comes to local, safe distribution of cannabis.
Some of the obvious issues brought to attention by the recent news are the safety of the children, including exposure to children, and keeping medical cannabis out of the hands of children.
Dispensaries currently do everything they can to keep cannabis out of the hands of children starting by providing a 19+ place to purchase medical cannabis. The only aspect in which the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation are superior is in terms of security. As the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation are legalized, they can operate large security systems including trained guards and the ability to call the police in event of an emergency. Not all local dispensaries have trained guards that are able to detect fake identification however the staff do their best to make sure no persons under the age of 19+ enter the storefront.
Upon legalization it will be hard to hide the existence of cannabis from children as it is currently with alcohol. There are alcohol advertisements in almost every form on all platforms. Child friendly drinks are now being made with alcohol and advertised where children may be exposed to it, take billboards for example.
If cannabis is to be legalized, like alcohol is, than there should not be a need to hide said cannabis. Cannabis should not have to be hidden from children in a Nova Scotia liquor store that they are not of age to be in to begin with. If cannabis is to be hidden, like tobacco, it would make more sense to sell out of tobacco storefronts than alcohol storefronts where everything is on display.
Dispensaries would like to be able to be completely transparent with the public, the local police, and the government, hoping that would allow for proper cannabis education and safe access. Two purposes of Bill C-45: are to “e) reduce the burden on the criminal justice system in relation to cannabis, and to f) enhance awareness” - two of many things that dispensaries are already committed to.
Local small business dispensaries are necessary.
* Please sign this petition to show your need and support for local medical cannabis dispensaries, and the staff that operate them.
Help to possibly end the police raids against local medical cannabis dispensaries.
Help to possibly grant amnesty to all Canadian citizens previously convicted of cannabis possession or cultivation, and eliminate previous related records.
Help to possibly enable municipal regulation of local dispensaries.
Help to possibly implement medical cannabis education programs and access.
Help to distinguish medical and recreational patients and consumers when referring to and distributing cannabis.
Help to end the stigma and criminalization around medical cannabis.
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