Pubdate: Wed, 06 Apr 2016
Source: Sooke News Mirror (CN BC)
Copyright: 2016 Sooke News Mirror
Author: Kevin Laird


Sooke is getting its first marijuana dispensary.

Medijuana Dispensary will open at the corner of Sooke and Murray roads
next week. It is located next to a restaurant, dentist office and some
residential housing.

Owner James Whitehead, a former Shirley resident now living in
Victoria, where he operates a similar business, said the dispensary
has a clinical air and provides cannabis only to customers who have
been certified for medical marijuana by Health Canada - or who have a
"proven medical condition."

"I really stop short of saying cannabis is a cure for anything," he

"What it is, it's an effective healthcare supplement adult Canadians
have a constitutional right to use it, to improve their health if they
feel that it's something that works for them."

Whitehead has a business degree and ran a national technology company
that did signage for arts and entertainment promotion.

He sustained a serious injury to his back and through a long recovery
process discovered cannabis. He was never a pot user before that, he

Medijuana Dispensary will carry 50 different strains of marijuana and
will also sell safe smoking accessories, forced air vaporizers and
possibly bongs and pipes.

The store will be open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week.
Medijuana staff will only sell to customers over the age of 21. Most
dispensaries sell to teens.

"The need of use [of cannabis] needs to fall within a lexicon in a
category of approved conditions so that will allow us feeling in good
conscience that we're providing them with a service that's going to
have a benefit and not be used recreationally," Whitehead said.

"Our objective is to help people, not get people high."

The District of Sooke business license bylaw does not prohibit
medicinal marijuana retail outlets.

Health Canada says medical dispensaries have been cropping up across
Canada for the past 20 years and storefront dispensaries are still not
considered legal, despite a Supreme Court ruling.

The court decision struck down the ban on medical marijuana patients
growing their own pot calling it unconstitutional.

Health Canada says medical marijuana is only legal if you have a
document from your doctor and buy the product from one of 30 licensed
producers that are listed on its website. The marijuana is shipped to
the user.

It's a tough call for police, says Sooke RCMP Staff Sgt. Jeff

"He's [Whitehead] basically operating in a grey area based on a
Supreme Court ruling that the government had to make marijuana
available to people who have a therapeutic need for it."

McArthur's concern is what element is the business going to attract to
Sooke and if it will be a positive or negative thing for the community.

"My preference would be that there wasn't any marijuana dispensary in
town, and we reserve the right to invoke the law if it turns out that
it's not being run in a way that's constructive," McArthur said.

'We'll be watching it carefully, for sure."
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