Pubdate: Mon, 24 Jul 2017
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: Jon Willing
Page: A3


Some ask for prescriptions or medical proof, most don't need

It's ridiculously easy to get weed from a storefront in Ottawa

With the number of pot shops in the city on the upswing, despite
multiple dispensary employees facing drug-trafficking charges
following police raids, the Citizen visited the city's 17 known
cannabis stores to find out how they're screening customers.

The dispensaries are, of course, illegal. But when many of them opened
in Ottawa, operators stressed their businesses were serving people who
needed medical marijuana.

During the Citizen's informal audit, only four of 17 shops asked for
any sort of official documentation to prove a medical official had
approved cannabis as a treatment. One of the four wouldn't discuss
selling marijuana until the Citizen reporter signed a membership form.
(The reporter declined to sign the membership form.)

Thirteen stores, meanwhile, indicated the reporter could purchase pot
without medical approval.

A Citizen reporter visited the 17 dispensaries over a three-day period
this week posing as a customer without medical approval. No cannabis
or weed products were purchased during the short visits.

The raids and arrests haven't intimidated the majority of these weed
shops, which blatantly sell pot and infused products, and in some
cases acknowledge their products are for recreational use.

Clearly the federal Liberals' plan to legalize and regulate cannabis
by this time next year has people eager to cash in, even though the
province hasn't determined where pot will be sold. Once Ontario
establishes a regulatory regime, city hall will likely consider its
own strategy for applying bylaws, such as zoning rules, to retailers.

Ottawa police have maintained they will continue to investigate
storefront weed shops. It's still a crime to possess and sell pot for
non-medical purposes.

People with documentation from health-care providers can legally buy,
and receive through the mail, cannabis from 52 producers currently
licensed by Health Canada. But the illegal storefronts provide
immediate access.

During the visits, store workers usually said they needed to see ID
before selling, since the general philosophy is to only sell weed to
people 19 years old or older. Some shops have signs telling people not
to enter if they're younger than 19.

Among the most overt businesses was Cannabis Culture on Bank Street in
Centretown, where a worker noted it's a "recreational dispensary."
Customers need only show their IDs before going into a back room to
choose a product.

At Wee Medical on Rideau Street, a worker said it was none of his
business to know customers' medical conditions if they wanted to buy.

At many places, anyone interested in buying products needed to fill
out a form, which could include an explanation of a medical condition,
but still no requirement to provide medical proof of that condition.

For example, the form at 613 Medicinals on Montreal Road has a line to
write a "medical reason" for buying products.

The GreenTree shops on Preston Street and Montreal Road just wanted to
see photo ID before selling. The Preston location permitted sniffing
the cannabis in jars (in this case, the "watermelon" product) when
asked about a good product to relieve headaches.

A handful of shops indicted they required some form of official
documentation beyond an ID card.

The man behind a service window at the Ottawa Cannabis Dispensary on
Laperriere Avenue said customers need to show an "LP" card - licensed
producer card - before shopping. The painted-green building with a
white medical-like cross

above the door is behind a food stand and diagonally across the street
from a Montessori school.

At the OMD in the Antares Drive business park, a woman behind a window
said she needed to see an LP card, doctor's prescription or a National
Access Canada card.

In a business park on Canotek Road in the east end, a staffer at
Greenworks Medicinal said he needed to see a prescription from a doctor.

A friendly young man behind the counter at Weeds on Bank Street
explained that a doctor's note or prescription was mandatory before
customers signed up for a membership. He wouldn't talk about the
products the store offers until there was proof of that

It was a similar experience at Smoke Signalz on Wellington St. W.,
where a woman was reluctant to discuss the weed in the store until a
membership form was signed. She directed questions about the product
to the WeedMaps website.

Shops are branching out to markets beyond the toking crowd. There were
canned drinks, candy and chocolate bars in glass display counters at
some locations.

At Lifeline Medicinals on Rideau Street, anyone who wanted to buy an
infused syrup needed to first sign a waiver. Apparently they're
concerned about people slurping the highly potent syrup before
operating heavy machinery.

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


Shopping for Weed

The results of our window shopping

Smoke Signalz (Wellington Street West location) - Didn't ask for
medical proof

Green Tree (Preston Street location) - Didn't ask for medical

Weeds - Asked for medical note or prescription

Cannabis Culture - Didn't ask for medical proof

Wee Medical (Rideau Street location) - Didn't ask for medical

Dr. Greenthumbs - Didn't ask for medical proof

The OMD - Asked for medical proof

Ottawa Cannabis Dispensary - Asked for licensed producer

CannaBotanix - Didn't ask for medical proof

Lifeline Medicinals - Didn't ask for medical proof

Smoke Signalz (Rideau Street location) - Didn't ask for medical

613 Medicinals - Didn't ask for medical proof

Green Tree (Montreal Road location) - Didn't ask for medical

Greenworks Medicinal - Asked for doctor's prescription

Smoke Signalz (St. Joseph Boulevard location) - Didn't ask for medical

Wee Medical (St. Laurent Boulevard location) - Didn't ask for medical

CannaGreen - Didn't ask for medical proof
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MAP posted-by: Matt