Pubdate: Sat, 22 Jul 2017
Source: Brandon Sun (CN MB)
Copyright: 2017, Brandon Sun
Author: Tyler Clarke


While Brandon's political representatives encourage the delay of the
legalization of marijuana, local advocates of the plant are saying the
day couldn't come soon enough.

Picking up related paraphernalia at Growers N' Smokers on Friday,
veteran Michael Gibson said that his "disrespect" for Premier Brian
Pallister is "huge, right now."

This week, Pallister publicly requested that Prime Minister Justin
Trudeau delay legalization for an extra year beyond the proposed date
of July 1, 2018.

With too many questions that still need answering, we're just not
ready for legalization, Brandon East Progressive Conservative MLA Len
Isleifson said, sharing in some of Pallister's concerns about
marijuana, more accurately called cannabis.

"I've talked to a number of people, where we just don't have a lot of
answers for them," Isleifson said, citing several areas in which the
federal government has yet to clarify either the legalities of
cannabis or how it might handle some concerns, such as how to
determine whether drivers are inebriated.

The federal government has put forward the idea that growing four
plants would be legal, but how does one count them? Isleifson asked.
Do you count plants that have been taken down to dry, or only those
being grown? What if more than one person lives in a housing unit or
building? Do they each get four plants?

"It's not a matter of delaying, it's a matter of getting things
right," he said. "I think for the sake of Manitobans' safety we need
to make sure things are in place before we move forward."

Brandon West Progressive Conservative MLA Reg Helwer is on a
provincial caucus working group, whose members, he said, have their
hands full seeking answers to these and other concerns that have been
brought forward.

While legalization is intended to take the criminal element out of
cannabis sales, he said that Health Canada-approved growers aren't set
up to supply enough product to accommodate recreational sales, meaning
the criminal element would remain.

"We only have one chance to get it right," Helwer said.

Dismissing similar concerns brought forward by Pallister as being
delay tactics, Gibson said that he has found a benefit to medical
cannabis that he wants to see more people

have the opportunity to experience without the risk of

Gibson received a medical marijuana prescription approximately two
months ago, though Growers N' Smokers owner Rick Macl said that not
everyone's fortunate to have a doctor wiling to offer one.

Chronic back, knee and ankle pain resulted in Gibson receiving a
recent medical discharge from the Canadian military, capping his
nine-year career in what he considers a haze of prescription medicine.

Prescribed Percocet, he said that as his tolerance level increased, he
began taking more and more of it.

"More than I should have, " he said. "I was almost taking

With encouragement from Macl, Gibson asked his doctor for a cannabis
prescription, which he was granted.

Since then, he said he has regained the ability to sleep at night,
adding, "Most days, I can get through the day" -a vast improvement
from his previously overly medicated state.

Receiving a prescription isn't the easiest nut to crack for some
people in Brandon, with Macl linking those unable to secure a willing
physician with others throughout the nation who are able to offer the
service over the internet.

Although there are a handful of physicians in Brandon who prescribe
cannabis, he said they don't want their names out there out of fear
they'll be overrun by those seeking prescriptions.

With these legal barriers currently in place between those who might
benefit from cannabis with what he has labeled a medicine, Macl has
strong words against Pallister's request that legalization be delayed.

"What's (Pallister's) problem?" he asked. "What are they sitting there
still thinking about? Do these guys actually think that they know more
than those who are already doing this?"

Brandon-Souris Conservative MP Larry Maguire plans on hosting public
meetings this summer, at which he said he would strive to "allow
everyday Westman residents to make their voices heard and to provide
amendments, suggestions and ideas" on legalization.

Macl said he's eager to attend these meetings, for which details are
still being hashed out.

Like the city's MLAs, Maguire has a number of questions and concerns
that he wants to see the Liberals answer and resolve before
legalization takes place.

Costs to policing are a big issue, which includes the means of
measuring one's THC levels -an ingredient in cannabis that can linger
in one's system for days, making its attribution toward impairment
difficult to determine.

Maguire also questions whether four plants is the right number, what
kind of public education campaign should accompany legalization and
how it might be taxed, among other things.

Since he opened Growers N' Smokers earlier this year, Macl said he has
seen business boom with a wide swath of the population, but primarily
with an older crowd, with his median customer approximately 60 years
of age.

He's still eager to begin selling cannabis as soon as legally possible
and has expanded his business into a neighbouring property to
accommodate the anticipated effort.

Whether recreational use becomes legal or otherwise, he said that his
speciality would remain medical in nature because helping those trying
to kick prescription drugs is where his passion lies.

There's much to know that many doctors aren't relaying to their
patients, Macl said, adding that a simple "cannabis" prescription is
meaningless if you don't know what strain to ingest.

Providing an example, he said "Sativa is like the devil for PTSD
patients because it makes your mind active."

Further to that, he said that although his business's name is "Growers
N' Smokers," smoking isn't actually the preferred means of absorbing
cannabis, citing vaping and baked goods as the best means of doing so.
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