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Medical Marijuana Dispensary Opens

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Burnaby's first medical marijuana dispensary opened at 10 a.m. on April 15, and so far, things are going well, according to Metrotown Medicinal Society director Britney Anne.

"It's been great," she said in a phone interview the afternoon it opened. "We've got five members so far."

The society invited the Burnaby RCMP to the opening to address any concerns law enforcement might have, she said, but officers did not attend.

But Burnaby RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Brenda Gresiuk said compassion clubs and dispensaries aren't legally entitled to sell marijuana under Canadian law.

"To date, there's no legal mechanism for that," she said.

She would not comment on whether or not action would be taken by the RCMP against the dispensary.

Health Canada does not license such organizations to possess, produce or distribute marijuana for medical purposes, according to a government press release.

The release was put out last June and sent to the NOW this week in response to queries about the Burnaby dispensary by Olivia Caron, a media relations officer for Health Canada.

The federal Marihuana Medical Access Regulations only provide three options for individuals to obtain legal medical marijuana: access to Health Canada's supply, obtaining a licence to produce it from Health Canada, or obtaining a licence from Health Canada to designate someone to grow it on the individual's behalf.

A letter or document from a physician alone does not give legal authorization for an individual to possess marijuana, the release stressed.

The dispensary only accepts members who have a doctor's recommendation or confirmation of a serious illness, which is in line with other dispensaries in B.C., Anne said.

"We aren't selling to just anybody," she said, but added that the dispensary has an unlimited capacity to serve any valid patients who wish to apply. "We do follow correct procedures."

The society was originally looking at setting up shop in New Westminster but chose the Burnaby property at 4927 Kingsway based on its central location and proximity to the Metrotown SkyTrain station, Anne said.

There are two dispensaries in Vancouver, but patients from Coquitlam, New Westminster, Surrey and other suburbs have difficulty travelling that distance, she explained.

"We serve a lot of disabled patients," Anne said, adding that not all of the members are able to drive.

The Metrotown dispensary is the first to be located near a SkyTrain line, she said.

The society is considering expanding to New Westminster next, Anne added.

Dana Larsen, who was a candidate in the recent B.C. New Democrat leadership race, is a director with the society and operates the Vancouver Medical Cannabis Dispensary with two locations in Vancouver.

The first is in East Vancouver and the second opened about a year ago in Vancouver's West End, he said.

"It's gone very smoothly," he said of the two dispensaries, adding the society serves about 3,000 patients.

The East Vancouver dispensary has a very good relationship with the nearby Ray-Cam Co-operative Centre, he said, and just received a letter of thanks for a food drive done on behalf of the centre.

Larsen is also on the board of a society that opened a dispensary in Maple Ridge, he said.

There, people were initially concerned about the effect the dispensary might have on a neighbourhood where drug crime had only recently been reduced, according to Larsen.

"Within a couple of weeks, we won our detractors over," he said, adding the dispensary's director is now a Block Watch captain in his neighbourhood. "They see how important we are to the community."

He expects the same reception in Burnaby, he said.

The Metrotown Medicinal Society is located at 4927 Kingsway and is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. from Monday to Friday, and from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends.

News Hawk- Jacob Husky 420 MAGAZINE
Source: burnabynow.com
Author: Janaya Fuller-Evans
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Copyright: Postmedia Network Inc.
Website: Medical marijuana dispensary opens
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