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Medical Marijuana Done 'Properly'

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Scott Gilbert's medical marijuana centre won't stock any cannabis, but will make it easy to produce and procure it.

That's if you have a permit from Health Canada, a mistake he learned the hard way.

Gilbert, 28, is awaiting trial on seven drug-related charges, including five for trafficking, after police seized an estimated $100,000 in marijuana and cash from a Guelph compassion club and five other related addresses last spring.

“I've certainly learned a lot in terms of the legal process and the implications of what's involved in working for a club that doesn't comply with the regulations,” said Gilbert, founder of the Hamilton Medical Marijuana Centre (HMMC) on King Street East.

Gilbert's centre will act as a broker for marijuana permit holders and licensed growers, for a fee.

It's a new model for a business that largely resides in a grey area. Unlike most medical marijuana centres, the Hamilton office will not have or sell any cannabis on site.

Gilbert said he chose Hamilton because the city doesn't have any compassion clubs or centres like the ones in Toronto and Guelph.

“I wanted to take it as an opportunity to do this project properly from the beginning. This means meeting with the police, various levels of the city and obtaining the necessary consultations,” Gilbert said.

He disclosed his criminal charges to Hamilton police, but failed to mention them in a news release Friday. They stem from a May 6, 2010 arrest after undercover officers were able to obtain licences to possess medicinal marijuana from the Medical Cannabis Club of Guelph.

The club doesn't have the authorization to issue such licences, federal prosecutors say.

Gilbert and two co-accused are set to appear in a Guelph court for a preliminary hearing in January.

Gilbert said he believes that generally, compassion clubs will confirm by phone with a doctor that a patient has a condition requiring medical marijuana before selling them any product.

In the Guelph case, Gilbert said a police officer posed as a “doctor” on the phone and at least three “patients” who were really undercover investigators were able to obtain a medical marijuana licence through the centre, leading to the arrest of four staff members. (Charges against one person have since been dropped.)

At the time, Gilbert was a licensed grower.

“I can't take that risk anymore. I won't actually begin transactions until Health Canada independently sends me a permit that says I'm allowed to provide (it),” said Gilbert.

“There's enough patients that could use the service and I wanted a clean slate.”

The Hamilton centre, located between Wentworth Street and Sherman Avenue, will contract with growers, pay them hourly wages and help them obtain the licence to grow the plant in one of HMMC's leased facilities.

Locations of grow-op facilities will be kept confidential, but Hamilton police will be kept in the loop. Gilbert indicated they would be in industrial condos, and house an average of 60 plants per address. With multiple addresses at each site, Gilbert estimates his 33-patient model will result in 500 marijuana plants over 2,000 square feet.

During his time as a licensed grower in Guelph, where he went to university, Gilbert helped a friend suffering from HIV and hepatitis C. He worked at the city's compassion club, assisting patients with the 33-page form from Health Canada.

Federal regulations allow people medically authorized for marijuana use to obtain cannabis in one of three ways: purchasing it through Health Canada; obtaining a licence to produce the plant for themselves; or obtaining a licence to designate someone else to produce the plant for them.

Rather than sell the product, HMMC will give growers access to a safe space to grow. Other compassion centres connect patients and growers, but do not provide a monitored space and supplies.

HMMC's opening coincides with proposed regulation changes by Health Canada that would phase out personal and designated production and initiate commercial production.

Hamilton Police Service says it is aware of the new centre.

“HPS will be monitoring the activity at the centre and will also be monitoring changes to Health Canada regulations,” said spokesperson Sergeant Terri-Lynn Collings.

Councillor Bernie Morelli said he was just notified of the new centre, which is in his Ward 3, Wednesday night and is looking into the zoning of the space. He said he doesn't have enough information and added he will be meeting with Gilbert as soon as possible.

“Clearly we have a number of challenges in our neighbourhood, and I want to make sure we avoid any more potential ones,” Morelli said.

Gilbert feels he's found a way to stay within Health Canada rules and his pending court case won't be a problem.

“Although I'm on charges, I don't believe they're going to have any impact on my ability to continue serving the needs of patients,” Gilbert said.

Health Canada said it does not comment on specific care centre models.


News Hawk- Jacob Ebel 420 MAGAZINE
Source: thespec.com
Author: Jeff Green
Contact: Contact Us
Copyright: Metroland
Website: Medical Marijuana Done ‘Properly'
 
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