Pubdate: Wed, 19 Sep 2012
Source: New West News Leader (CN BC)
Copyright: 2012 Black Press
Author: Mario Bartel


Like any small businessman Justin Cleveland is passionate about the 
product he sells.

But when that product is illegal unless it's being obtained by 
permission of the federal government and with a doctor's 
prescription, Cleveland knows he has to tread carefully to ease the 
concerns of neighbouring businesses and residents.

Cleveland is the president of the West Coast Green Light Society, a 
non-profit organization dedicated to creating safe, legal access to 
marijuana for medical needs. Since April he's been in the process of 
opening the N.I.C.E. Dispensary at 907 12th St. to distribute 
cannabis to customers who need it to ease the symptoms of a variety 
of ailments, like nausea from cancer treatment, Multiple Sclerosis, 
arthritis, epilepsy and glaucoma.

And while the front door is open to the spartan dispensary that 
consists of a row of chairs, two dispensing offices and a countertop, 
not a single leaf, bottle of tincture or cannabis capsule has yet to be sold.

That's because Cleveland wants to first ensure the community is 
comfortable with his presence.

He's keeping the dispensary doors open during business hours, even 
though he's not actually selling product yet, so neighbours along the 
street and in the adjoining neighbourhoods of the West End and Moody 
Park can pop in to ask questions and learn about how he plans to 
conduct his business.

"We don't want to blindside anybody," said Cleveland, 23.

He's scheduled presentations to the West End and Moody Park residents 
associations, as well as the West End Business Association for later 
this month and early October. He's also planning to talk to the New 
Westminster Police Department.

The arrival of a marijuana dispensary is particularly sensitive on 
12th Street, a retail stretch that's grappled with prostitution, 
petty crime and road construction over the years.

"This is the perfect place to help the miserable be more miserable," 
said Sandy Longridge, who's operated Assist 2 Sell real estate on 
12th since 2008.

Cleveland assures those who pop into the dispensary he's not a drug 
dealer. Before clients can even have a hope of obtaining his 
products, they'll first have to fill out sheafs of Health Canada 
paperwork, and get a prescription from their doctor. They'll then get 
their photo taken and be issued a membership card to the dispensary. 
They'll also have to sign a pledge to abide by a code of conduct 
posted on the dispensary's wall.

Trained counsellors will be on hand to help clients find the cannabis 
treatment that best suits their needs; medical marijuana can also be 
administered as an oral spray, a tincture, as an additive to food, in 
capsules or even as a topical cream.

"We don't look to make their problems worse," said Cleveland. "The 
dispensary is about harm reduction so clients don't have to go to the 
black market in the street."

Cleveland said all of his cannabis will be tested by an independent 
laboratory in Victoria to ensure it's not tainted by other chemicals, 
pesticides, fungus or moulds. It will be stored in an 1,100-pound safe.

For now, that safe is still empty as Cleveland continues in his quest 
to win neighbours over.

"You need to do it rationally," he said. "You have to respect that 
not everybody understands what we're doing. It's not a pot shop."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom