420 Magazine Background

Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Looking More Like Pot Spas As Industry Rapidly Grows

The General

New Member
Canada - By the federal government's own estimates, the number of medical marijuana patients in Canada could grow from just under 40,000 to 400,000 in the next decade – with half of them residing in B.C. New regulations introduced April 1 appear to be hastening growth in the number of patients. And Lower Mainland medical marijuana dispensaries are filling the void, offering ingenious ways to deliver patients' pot prescriptions. Vancouver alone has more than 20 storefront pharmacies offering amenities such as cannabis oil massages, juice bars, in-house naturopaths and Wi-Fi vapour lounges in an attempt to stand out in an increasingly crowded market of dispensaries.

Before new regulations came in, patients applied to Health Canada, a lengthy process requiring a doctor's note. Now, doctors can issue medical marijuana exemptions directly. Anticipating a new wave of customers, Matteo Suleyman, manager of the Sea to Sky Alternative Healing Society, just opened his second location on Vancouver's East Second Avenue (His first shop, opened in December, is on Fraser Street.) Suleyman's clinic boasts a lounge, in-house naturopathic doctor and smoothie bar where patients can get custom-blended medicinal juice.

"We want to make it easier," Suleyman said of his service innovations. "We'd like to educate people that you can heal yourself without pharmaceutical drugs." Other clinics boast similar attractions. In May, the B.C. Pain Society on Commercial Drive debuted a marijuana vending machine. Eden Medicinal Society has a vapour lounge with Wi-Fi, computer games, pool and foosball tables. Canna Clinic Medicinal Society, which opened a third branch on Granville Street in April, provides in-house cannabis oil massages.

Suleyman believes the clinic boom is due, in part, to non-aggressive law enforcement. "People are still working in a grey area because we're not legal to do this yet. But when people saw police in Vancouver weren't going to interfere, it gave them more motivation and security," he said. The Vancouver Police aren't in a rush to make busts. However, the sale of marijuana is illegal, said VPD Const. Brian Montague, adding, "while these dispensaries are not a priority, it does not mean that they can't become a priority if public safety becomes a concern."

Health Canada regulations are clear. Authorized medical marijuana patients – 15,000 of them in B.C. alone – can only legally obtain medicine by direct mail from one of 13 approved producers in Canada, or by growing their own if approved for home-production (some 10,900 in B.C. are approved), or from another approved home-producer (1,800 in B.C.). Yet Health Canada's own statistics suggest many registered patients source medicine elsewhere: only 5,120 patients buy from sanctioned producers. These developments set the stage for a boom in the medical marijuana cultivation industry, which the government estimates could reach $1.3 billion by 2024.

"If demand increases, capacity will increase as well. There is no limit to the number of producers Health Canada is going to authorize," said the president of Bedrocan Canada, a licensed producer in Toronto with 1,000 patients.In the past decade, Health Canada received 858 applications to produce marijuana. Of those applications, 289 of them – 101 of them in B.C. – are being seriously considered. To date, 20 licences have been issued, six in B.C., among them: Canna Farms in Maple Ridge, Tilray in Nanaimo, In The Zone in Armstrong, Thunderbird Biomedical on Vancouver Island and Whistler Medical Marijuana Co. And as the sector gains acceptance, high-profile players are stepping in.

Former B.C. Premier Mike Harcourt is involved in a startup called True Leaf Medicine in Lumby, while former West Vancouver police chief Kash Heed provides security consulting for various local and national producers. The one high-profile group not on board is B.C.'s doctors. "We think Health Canada has abdicated their responsibility," said Dr. Heidi Oetter, registrar and CEO of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of B.C. "We think quite frankly that there are a lot of people who use it recreationally who not surprisingly want a medical document to support their use."

Don't want to smoke your dose of medical marijuana? There are myriad ways clinic patients can consume pot prescriptions:
Drink it – with ice tea, lemonade, soda, fruit punch, juice or coffee.
Eat it – with brownies, Nanaimo bars, fudge, chocolate, honey, peppermint patties, peanut butter cups, cake, candies, rice krispies, popcorn, lollipops, doughnuts, toffee, ice-cream, bread, olive oil, butter, ketchup, hot sauce.
Rub it – massage oil, lip balm, lotion, tinctures, salves.


News Moderator - The General @ 420 MAGAZINE ®
Source: Theprovince.com
Author: Elaine O'Connor
Contact: Contact Us - The Province
Website: Medical marijuana dispensaries looking more like pot spas as industry rapidly grows
Top Bottom