HALIFAX – A medical marijuana lounge quietly opened its doors in Halifax this weekend.
Farm Assists on Gottingen Street is a cannabis resource centre. Marijuana accessories and paraphernalia fill the front of the store while a vapour lounge takes up the back portion.
And in the vapour lounge is where Adam Zinck sits, cutting up marijuana for a joint.
The 34-year-old man, who does not have a medical marijuana license yet, has been using marijuana medicinally to ease pain and anxiety stemming from a car accident 17 years ago.
“I injured my back really bad. As a result, I was put on a lot of painkillers and eventually wound up on methadone,” he said, adding marijuana weaned him off other medications.
“A year and a half later, I shattered my ankle. I have a lot of pain there now. I’ve been using [marijuana] for that and it helps.”
Zinck calmly rolls up a joint in the vapour lounge at Farm Assists, saying he is glad the business opened.
“It’s a safe place where you can go and stay out of trouble,” he said.
“It brings me around people who are using it medically [rather than] recreationally.”
Farm Assists is owned by Chris Enns, who has a medical marijuana license that allows him to provide cannabis for two people.
But he plans to sell marijuana to those who have a license and a medical need for the substance.
“Individuals continue to struggle on a day-to-day basis to access [marijuana] from licensed producers. For the time being, we fill that void by stepping out on that limb and helping out those with a license beyond those two individuals,” he said.
But Enns also faces charges of his own. He is charged with possession of cannabis for the purpose of trafficking and possession of resin for the purpose of trafficking. Both charges stem from a raid in March 2013 at a previous marijuana hydrophonics store in Porters Lake.
Enns, however, said he believes the law is on his side when it comes to the legality of his store.
“Where exactly the law is law is pretty grey right now. I believe the need for patients to access that medication and the struggle they’re facing is what brings what we’re doing into constitutional territory,” he said.
The owner said people of all ages and suffering from various ailments, such as arthritis to epilepsy to cancer, have been walking through the doors.
Enns said he has not had any interactions with police since the store opened but notes there has been support from the community.
“We’ve certainly been seeing may people from the community trickling in and popping their head in the door to see what’s up. It’s really exciting.”
One of those curious customers was Maggi Keddy, who said she uses marijuana, though not medicinally, and wanted to support the business.
“We need more shops like this. Maybe if there was more shops then people [would] see how much of a benefit it is more than a problem,” she said.