Pubdate: Fri, 07 Oct 2016
Source: Barrie Examiner (CN ON)
Copyright: 2016, Barrie Examiner
Author: Cheryl Browne
Page: A3


After a car crash nearly killed her when she was 17, Jessie Lawson
survived only to live with chronic pain and a daily existence taking a
host of prescription medications.

But in 2001, Lawson, who hails from a family with two generations of
proud military service, dropped the news she was tossing away the
pharmaceuticals in favour of medical marijuana.

"There's a ridiculous social stigma that goes along with it. It's
awful," Lawson said.

Visiting with the former employees-turned-volunteers at Sunrise
Medicinal on Dunlop Street West, Lawson said she was so impressed with
the professional atmosphere at the downtown Barrie medical marijuana
dispensary, she brought her 70-year-old mother in for a tour of the

She said because her symptoms vary, she'll use five grams one day and
only one gram the next.

But when trying to pre-order from one of only 35 licensed facilities
approved by Health Canada, she said she doesn't know how much to order
and how much to pay for one month's supply until she's tried the strain.

"When I was buying here, I could try different samples at a time. I
spent a week figuring out what worked, what took the pain away but
didn't leave me to too sleepy, and then I found one, Godberry, that
worked," she said.

However, after police raided Barrie's two marijuana dispensaries on
Aug. 30, customers like Lawson have been forced to buy their medicine
through the government or illegally.

Barrie police arrested five people, two from Sunrise and three from
Med-West on Dunlop Street West, and seized a large quantity of
marijuana, resin, hashish and edible marijuana products from both locations.

Police took their cue from Health Canada, which released its new
Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR)
legislation in mid-August, stating stores like Sunrise Medicinal were
prohibited from selling marijuana for medical or recreational use.

People with medical marijuana licences are allowed to grow their own
marijuana, but now they have to 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.

The feds say the nation's 35 licensed producers are still considered
the primary source of safe, quality-controlled cannabis and will be
the only legal source of starting materials, such as seeds or plants,
for medical marijuana users or their designates.

Designates are not allowed to grow and sell marijuana, they can only
grow enough for another licensed user.

And this is where dispensaries seem to be in a legal grey

Joe Bidinot, owner of Sunrise Medicinal, who is facing trafficking and
possession charges for running his dispensary, believes Health Canada
acted too harshly when it forced small retail stores to close.

"Health Canada said we're not allowed to buy from the licensed
growers, so we bought from growers who did have licences," Bidinot

Standing in his now bud-free shop, Bidinot said he's hoping to
petition the City of Barrie to allow him to re-open his location.

"We're selling medical marijuana and we're only dealing with licensed
users. It's grown by patients for patients," he said.

With a growing list of names on the city's website --
( -- Bidinot hopes to gather enough signatures
to earn a deputation with council and fight for a legal business
licence to sell medical marijuana.

As far as Tammy Banting, Barrie's manager of bylaw services, knows,
there are no business licences required for medical marijuana

Although the city does license restaurants, bars and taxi companies,
they don't license general retail shops or doctors' offices.

And they don't license private clubs.

"Take the Royal Canadian Legion, for example. We would license their
restaurant, but not the actual club aspect of it," Banting said.

However, Banting points out that the city can't supersede laws that
are already in place, such as federal Health Canada legislation, that
make such dispensaries illegal.

But Bidinot isn't ready to give up the fight.

"We're just trying to keep our doors open. In the six months we were
open, we had up to 200 people in here a day. The average age of our
customer is 51. We aren't really selling to many people under 30 and
these people all have legitimate licences to buy and grow marijuana,"
he said.
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