Pubdate: Thu, 01 Sep 2016
Source: Barrie Examiner (CN ON)
Copyright: 2016, Barrie Examiner
Author: Ian McInroy


Closure of Two Dispensaries Leaves Customers in Limbo

Medicinal marijuana users in Barrie are in limbo after two pot 
dispensaries in the city were shut down this week.

Four men face drug charges after city police raided the marijuana 
dispensaries Tuesday with Controlled Drug and Substance Act warrants.

Investigators seized a large quantity of cash, according to police, 
as well as cannabis marijuana, cannabis resin, hashish and edible 
products containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive 
ingredient contained in marijuana.

The city police street crime unit is investigating Sunrise Medicinal 
on Dunlop Street East and Med West on Dunlop Street West.

People attempting to get into the Sunrise Medicinal shop on Tuesday 
and Wednesday said they were disappointed with the raids.

Robert Denne, 51, who identifies as a medicinal user - although he 
has not been prescribed for the drug by a doctor - said he relies on 
marijuana to relieve his symptoms related to post-traumatic stress 
disorder, anxiety and depression.

He also wears a colonostomy bag and says he is dealing with many 
other medical conditions. "I was here yesterday," he said, standing 
in front of Sunrise Medicinal. "I'm on an Ontario Disability Support 
Program and I like marijuana instead of pills. I'm not a 
pharmaceutical kind of guy.

"I was a recreational user, now it's medicinal. Now it helps me relax 
and it does what I think it should," Denne said. "If I could get a 
form from my doctor, I could purchase it from a medicinal marijuana 
dispensary. But he hasn't given his consent. He's against it."

Deene said he has considered trying Simcoe Holistic Health, a 
Barrie-based company established in 2013 to help guide patients with 
advice about medical marijuana access. The company does not sell 
marijuana on site. According to the company's website, staff and 
physicians provide for the evaluation and treatment of conditions 
that are suitable for medicinal marijuana.

"One day I'll see what's involved with that," Denne said.

Another man - who didn't want his name used - attempted to access 
Sunrise Medicinal on Tuesday, but was refused entry while police 
conducted their investigation. He said he has been prescribed by a 
doctor to use medicinal marijuana, and appreciates being able to 
purchase it from a business like Sunrise.

"It's under control there," he said. "You never know what you'll get 
off the street."

Mika Kumpulainen, who is dealing with a type of eczema and 
auto-immune system issues, wanted to speak with Sunrise staff on 
Wednesday, but the store remains closed.

"This is ridiculous. I'm looking for solutions and medicinal 
marijuana might be one of them," he said. "This closure affects me. 
It's denying me an option to find relief from what my body is doing to me.

"I'm still exploring the idea of medical marijuana, but this (store's 
closure) is one less option," Kumpulainen said. "People are smoking 
this for relief of their circumstances. I see it as a simple and a 
not dangerous way to provide that relief."

A woman making her way along Dunlop Street East in front of Sunrise 
Medicinal with the help of two walking sticks said she also wants to 
explore the possibility of using medicinal marijuana.

But that's something she said her doctor isn't keen on.

"He is a chronic-pain specialist, but doesn't know much about other 
drugs," said the woman, who also didn't want her name used, adding 
she is in constant pain, especially since breaking a hip several years ago.

"I've had very severe scoliosis since childhood. I've had to take 
narcotics like morphine and Percocet," she said. "I want off those. 
I'm not interested in getting high.

"I'd like to become a medicinal marijuana user. I should be allowed 
to use it. I might be able to be out of pain. What am I going to do now?"

Police say the investigation is ongoing and detectives continue to 
comb through a large quantity of items seized from both stores.

Further arrests and charges are expected as the investigation 
continues, according to police.

Barrie police, which has worked with the city and the Crown 
attorney's office on this matter, say the investigation has resulted 
from unspecified community complaints.

City police have called the two outlets 'illegal marijuana 
dispensaries' and said they are not a Health Canada-licensed producer 
or distributor, as defined in the Access to Cannabis for Medical 
Purposes Regulations.

Police have also said these type of storefront operations pose a 
potential health risk, as the production of controlled substances is 
not regulated by Health Canada and/or can originate from unknown sources.

A 63-year-old Wasaga Beach man from Sunrise Medicinal has been 
charged with drug trafficking and possession for the purpose of trafficking.

A Coldwater man, 30, from Med West, has been charged with drug 
trafficking and drug possession for the purpose of trafficking.

A 30-year-old Barrie man, also from Med West, has been charged with 
drug trafficking and possession for the purpose of trafficking.

Another Barrie man, age 29, from Med West, has been charged with drug 
trafficking and possession for the purpose of trafficking.

All four men have Barrie court dates on Sept. 28.

The two Controlled Drug and Substance Act warrants were executed just 
after 11 a.m. on Tuesday, and closed the dispensaries.

Police released information about the charges Wednesday.

Denne said it's time for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberal 
government to take action on legalizing marijuana.

"It was the feds who promised it. What are they doing to make it done 
more quickly? Trudeau should step up soon, or even tomorrow, and 
legalize it," Denne said. "It's time for it. Other countries are 
doing it. Why can't we?

"It's going to be legalized one way or the other. Why not kill two 
birds (legalization and increased access to medicinal marijuana) with 
one stone?"

- - with files from Bob Bruton
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom