Pubdate: Tue, 29 Nov 2016
Source: Telegram, The (CN NF)
Copyright: 2016 The Telegram
Author: James Mcleod
Page: A1


Editor's note: Reporter James McLeod had a tip: A shop in Downtown St.
John's was selling pot to people who never had a prescription. He
asked if we wanted him to try and buy some for a story. We said yes.
The sale of marijuana is already a big issue in our community. That
importance will only grow in the coming months as the federal
government prepares legislation to legalize. So James proceeded and
this story reflects his experience. Our hope is it informs the
community and prompts necessary debate on this issue.

Telegram able to buy marijuana products with ease

At CannaLeaf Medical Dispensary, no prescription is no problem, and it
was no problem for this reporter to buy this weekend.

Marijuana sells for $12 per gram, unless otherwise labelled. Edibles
start from $15 (or two for $25) and get more expensive depending on
what form it takes, and how much THC it's got.

I bought the "Green Lantern" variety for $10 a gram. I also picked up
a pack of "extra strength" gummie bunny edibles, for $15.

I paid $25 cash. They don't take debit or credit.

The friendly, cheerful woman behind the counter didn't ask to see a
prescription or what ailments I might have. I had to fill out a
one-page form with my name, address, signature, phone number, email
address and the date. That's it.

I was issued an unlaminated cardboard membership card, to save me from
having to fill the form out again when I come back, I guess.

As I was buying the drugs, I mostly asked questions about the product.
I didn't say that I was a journalist. But I couldn't

help but ask the question hanging over the whole room: Is this

"Yes," the lady said, with a smile.

But her co-worker, a guy standing beside her on the other side of the
counter jumped in and gave a different answer.

"Somewhat," he said. "Say, half and half. Some grey areas that allow
us to operate, but those same grey areas allow us to be raided."

The customer in line beside me mumbled something about yeah, there's a
pretty good chance they'll get raided. The guy at the counter smiled.

"Oh, I'd say it's more of a 100 per cent chance we'll be raided," he
said. "We've got 37 locations across Canada, and in the beginning of
B.C. and in the beginning in Toronto, we got raided every f---kn' week."

I tried looking into this claim online, and couldn't find a big chain
of CannaLeaf dispensaries across the country. There are a couple
CannaLeaf locations in Toronto, but the logo is different than the St.
John's shop. There's a website that lists 13 "Canna Clinic"
dispensaries in Toronto and B.C., also with a different logo than
CannaLeaf in St. John's.

Several Canna Clinic locations were raided by Toronto police earlier
this year.

In addition to criminal charges, CBC News reported on Monday that the
City of Toronto has been going after dispensaries for violating zoning
laws, laying a total of 347 charges, and prompting 100 dispensaries to
close their doors.

I contacted the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary about CannaLeaf, but
the police declined to provide comment for this story.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau campaigned on a promise to legalize
marijuana for recreational purposes, and the federal government is
expected to tackle the issue next year. Judging from the popularity of
CannaLeaf's St. John's operation, there are plenty of people who are
eager for fully legal weed. Chatting with the customer lined up in
front of me, he talked about his frustration getting pot from drug

"Hopefully Trudeau can do it," he said. "None of this dicking around
shit. At least when you're down here, you get served, get what you
want and then leave."

And we had plenty of time to chat. All in all, it took about 45
minutes to get in and make my purchase, because there was a big,
slow-moving line.

When I opened the door, I accidentally hit somebody who was standing
just inside. At times, the line spills out into the street. On
Saturday evening when I was in the shop, there were about 25 or 30
people in line at any given time.

The dispensary is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week, and
according to people I spoke with who had been there before, there's
basically always a line.

They've been open about two weeks.

I went back on Sunday morning, and arrived right at 10 a.m. when they
were scheduled to open, and found about a dozen people in line out
front of 448 Water St, waiting. There was a mixup with the keyholder,
and somebody had to drive down to open up.

I ended up chatting with the guy at the front of the line while we
waited. He didn't give his name, but he said he was currently a
labourer, formerly a security guard, and before that a veteran with
two tours in Afghanistan.

He said he has chronic back pain, and the marijuana

Another person behind him in line chimed into the conversation, saying
the weed helps his rheumatoid arthritis.

"I pay $30 per pill for my arthritis pills," he said. "I smoke one
joint, and I'm ok."

By the time CannaLeaf opened for business at 10:20 a.m. on Sunday,
there were 16 people waiting patiently in the cold.

I identified myself as a journalist, explained the story I was writing
and asked if there was somebody who would be willing to comment. The
keyholder said that she couldn't comment, but if I gave my contact
information, she'd pass it along to the manager.

Then she banned me from coming into the shop, and she said if The
Telegram used any of the pictures I took inside, they'd commence legal

As of publication, the manager has not gotten in touch.

The Telegram plans to send the drugs I purchased out for testing, to
determine the quality and chemical content.

- ------------------------------------------------------


"To ensure that we keep marijuana out of the hands of children, and
the profits out of the hands of criminals, we will legalize, regulate,
and restrict access to marijuana. We will remove marijuana consumption
and incidental possession from the Criminal Code, and create new,
stronger laws to punish more severely those who provide it to minors,
those who operate a motor vehicle while under its influence, and those
who sell it outside of the new regulatory framework. We will create a
federal/provincial/territorial task force, and with input from experts
in public health, substance abuse, and law enforcement, will design a
new system of strict marijuana sales and distribution, with
appropriate federal and provincial excise taxes applied."

- - 2015 Liberal Party of Canada election platform
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