Pubdate: Mon, 04 Apr 2016
Source: Sudbury Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2016 Osprey Media
Author: Jenny Yuen
Page: A1


Note: Ronan Levy, director of Canadian Cannabis Clinics, said the 
company plans to open a clinic in Sudbury. An exact site for the 
clinic remains to be confirmed, but it will likely be downtown and 
operating this month. The Sudbury clinic will be 13th one in Ontario 
for the company, which is the country's largest operator of clinics 
specializing in medical cannabis.

While the concentration of medicinal marijuana dispensaries is mainly 
in downtown Toronto, access to the drug isn't just exclusively for 
those living in the 416 area code.

Canadian Cannabis Clinics has sparked up 11 locations throughout the 
GTA - including one recently in Mississauga - and southern Ontario 
since September 2014.

The clinics hook up people who suffer from legitimate ailments with 
prescriptions for medicinal pot. Patients rely on licensed growers - 
approved by Health Canada - for their weed.

Ronan Levy, director and general consul for the clinics, speaks about 
how the business is expanding to the 'burbs.

Q. How did the idea of these clinics come about?

"Almost all the doctors we spoke to told us they had patients who 
wanted medical cannabis but those particular doctors were not going 
to prescribe medical cannabis because they weren't comfortable about 
it, didn't know enough about it, believe in it - whatever the case 
may be. But they were happy to refer patients to doctors that were 
comfortable with this. After hearing that enough times, we thought, 
'what about trying to make a medical clinic for this particular niche 
and help doctors who have these patients they can't help and patients 
who can't get help from their own doctors.' "

Q. You opened your first location in St. Catharines. Why is there a 
need for your clinics in places other than downtown Toronto? "It's 
known that wherever you go in Canada, either people are 
self-medicating or they're finding challenges with the available 
options to them. When you start to get into the suburbs, you have 
less density of doctors, you generally have attitudes and mindsets 
that tend to be more socially conservative than in major urban 
centres, so doctors are probably more hesitant (to prescribe) than in 
Toronto. No, it's not surprising there's a strong demand in suburban 
communities, because you have demand that's not being fulfilled. 
That's why clinics like us open in these areas."

Q. What are common misconceptions about your clinics?

"We are not a dispensary, there's no cannabis onsite, you can't leave 
our clinics with cannabis. The second thing is a lot of people expect 
there to be fees, whether it's an education or monitoring fee. There 
are no fees associated with anything, except a $60 cancellation fee 
(for no-shows). It's covered by OHIP. The only cost they incur is the 
fee for the cannabis, which they pay to the licensed producer."

Q. How do you make sure patients go to a licensed producer instead of 
illegal dispensaries?

"We try to make it as easy as possible for patients to work with one 
of the licensed producers. In addition to providing education, what 
the counsellors will also do is ... the paperwork that needs to be 
done can be done on-site and quickly. We send it off on the patient's 
behalf. All patients sign a 'treatment agreement,' similar to what 
you see in methadone practice, to make sure patients are actually 
adhering to what they're being prescribed. They will only get their 
cannabis from a licensed producer ... you know the quality that comes 
with that."

Q. Is the number of your patients expanding? There are four new 
locations set to open in Markham, Kingston, Hamilton and Sudbury.

"It's definitely accelerating. Most indicative of that is looking at 
our oldest clinics ... The number of referrals we're getting at our 
oldest clinics are actually accelerating the fastest. So you see the 
attitudes start to change. Physicians in local communities start to 
get more comfortable with it."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom