Pubdate: Fri, 26 Aug 2016
Source: Barrie Examiner (CN ON)
Page: A1
Copyright: 2016, Barrie Examiner
Author: Cheryl Browne


Medical-marijuana shops are flying under the radar as federal laws 
dispute their very existence.

Health Canada's new Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes 
Regulations (ACMPR) went into effect Thursday, essentially 
prohibiting storefront dispensaries from selling marijuana for 
medical or recreational use.

"Storefront operations selling marijuana, commonly known as 
dispensaries and compassion clubs, are not authorized to sell 
cannabis for medical or any other purposes," said Anna Maddison, 
senior media relations advisor for Health Canada. "These operations 
are illegally supplied, and provide products that are unregulated and 
may be unsafe."

But William Davis, a customer of Sunshine Medicinal on Dunlop Street 
East in Barrie, said he doesn't understand why the government would 
care where he gets his marijuana from.

"I've been smoking it for 40 years. I don't have a legal provider and 
if you go through the government they want more money," Davis said on 
Thursday. "This is so much easier. As long as you have your doctor's 
note, everything's OK."

Davis, who said he suffers from sciatica, depression and arthritis in 
his hip and spine, said he uses marijuana in conjunction with pills 
he's prescribed by a physician.

"I could be taking pills by the handful, but I don't have to use half 
as much morphine if I use marijuana," he said.

One of the principals of Med West on Dunlop Street West, Ian McLeod, 
said his staff are continuing to sell marijuana.

"We're just going with the status quo and taking care of our medical 
patients as we've always done," McLeod said.

But he might not be able to stay open for long.

Under the new national regulations, medical-marijuana users are 
allowed to grow their own or get legally sanctioned marijuana from 
one of the 35 federally approved grow facilities.

At Simcoe Alternative Medicine in Barrie's south end, owner Alvin 
McAlendin said he's slowly making his way through the documentation 
released by Health Canada on Thursday to ensure he remains compliant.

His shop does not dispense medical marijuana; it only acts in an 
advisory capacity to assist people who order through the large, 
legally sanctioned growers, two of which are in the Barrie area.

McAlendin said he gets paid on a referral-only basis by some growers 
and not at all by others.

"The only change for us now is I'm assuming we'll be busier," McAlendin said.

His concern with the illegal dispensaries is quality control.

"The issue I have is the same as Coun. Rose Romita has, and that's 
public safety. None of the products are tested and could contain 
mould spores. Whether it's a compassionate person and it's grown in a 
basement somewhere, there's essentially no quality control," he said.

Under the ACMPR, growers must apply for a Health Canada registration 
certificate and abide by maximum plant limits, storage and possession 
requirements based on the amounts prescribed by their physician.

However, the feds say the nation's licensed producers are still 
considered the primary source of safe, quality-controlled cannabis 
and will be the only legal source of starting materials, i.e. seeds 
or plants, for medical marijuana users or their designates. According 
to Barrie's supervisor of bylaw services, Ron Osborne, the city has 
the authority to license the large legal growers, but not the small 

"And quite frankly, the downtown situation is nothing we would deal 
with. That's all left up to the police to do. There's nothing in our 
bylaws about people keeping marijuana plants. Again, that's a police 
issue," Osborne said.

Barrie police said they are aware of the dispensary activities in 
Barrie and are holding talks with city officials, the Simcoe Muskoka 
District Health Unit and the Crown Attorney's office.

"Community safety is paramount in these discussions in determining an 
appropriate community response," said Deputy Chief Bruce Carlson.

Under the the new ACMPR, Health Canada promises to work closely with 
provincial authorities to share data including the quantities of 
cannabis authorized to be grown in their jurisdiction, as well as 
maintaining a 24/7 phone line so law enforcement officials can ensure 
individuals are authorized to possess or produce pot for medicinal purposes.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom