Pubdate: Fri, 16 Apr 2010
Source: Simcoe Reformer, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2010 Sun Media
Author: Barbara Simpson
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


A new joint promoting the giggling weed is blossoming on one of 
Delhi's main drags in an effort to plant the seed of education about 
medical marijuana.

Over the last handful of days, Norfolk grower Rick West and his crew 
with his business Highly Recommended Plus have been busy tending to a 
King Street store that is being transformed into an information 
centre. Once the small storefront is renovated, it will be a safe 
place for doctors and interested residents to chalk up on their weed wisdom.

The storefront will also sell marijuana seed and glass paraphernalia 
for smoking, such as pipes and bongs, pending a vendor's permit. 
However, it will also serve as home to West's clients who seek both 
advice on obtaining an authorization to obtain medical marijuana and 
even purchasing their medical marijuana from him. He charges a 
slightly more reasonable $2 per gram compared to $5 a gram from Health Canada.

West holds a producer's licence that allows him to maintain 98 
marijuana plants. As a sufferer of both a connective tissue disorder 
and arthritis, he also has authorization to utilize 20 grams of pot 
per day -- a high quantity compared to the prescribed three to five 
grams per day that is the average for the most patients.

West has also played a hand in transforming the rural landscape. The 
makeshift cannabis consultant has taught local clients how to grow 
their own weed, helped local farmers in obtaining their own 
producer's licences and even rented out empty greenhouses to perfect 
his own hybrid of marijuana. Recently, West has partnered with Brian 
Julian, of the advocacy Medical Miracles Group, to establish a 
franchise operation in Wainfleet. He now has his eye set on 
developing a research facility locally.

"This area has been called the marijuana belt for so long," he said, 
as he used a spice grinder to whittle down his marijuana to roll up a joint.

In fact, West is proud in his transformation from a guerrilla grower 
- -- a grassroots producer who plants his marijuana hidden in between 
other crops -- into a legitimate businessman. With several criminal 
convictions for growing pot illegally under his marijuana-decorated 
belt, he doesn't want to see fellow growers follow down the same path.

"It's worked out because I've been able to turn illegal growers into 
legal growers," he explained.

He has also served as an advocate for medical marijuana clients. 
Already in his sparse storefront, local residents have stuck their 
heads in to inquire about medical marijuana.

Sitting perched under his hand painted banner that proclaims, "Highly 
Recommended Plus 420," a local resident stops by to ask West if he 
can help him obtain his authorization for medical marijuana. This 
resident has been stuck on the addictive Oxycotin after surgeries to 
fix his wrists in pain from carpal tunnel syndrome.

"Just sitting here, that's how many people have come in," West said, 
waving his hand over the flap of a folder marked with names.

He expects to have 1,000 clients by the fall. Some are elderly, 
searching for a way to battle the pain of arthritis, and some are as 
young as 10 years old, hunting for an alternative to controlling ADHD 
other than Ritalin. In fact, West says the parents of the latter 
client mix his medical marijuana into the childhood snacks of peanut 
butter and cookies.

West advises his clients to actually drink or eat their high rather 
than smoke it. He pulls out a baggie of rich spiced pepper -a variety 
that is perfect for tea -for a quick sniff .

While some residents may be alarmed by the open invitation for 
marijuana blossom in the community's front yard, West hasn't heard 
any flack yet.

However, he admits there are a lot of people who dislike his business 
but simply do not understand what is his purpose.

Highly Recommended Plus is a nonprofi t organization, he explained, 
and he prides himself in providing low cost pot for medical users. In 
fact, he would one day like to hand out his crop for free.

"The public needs to understand it's just not a bunch of potheads, 
we're educated people," he added.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom