New medical marijuana dispensary opens in Saint John, owners say education is key

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Medical marijuana dispensary opens in Saint John
WATCH ABOVE: A new medical marijuana dispensary has opened in Saint John. Adrienne South reports – Sep 3, 2016

EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this story, published on Sept. 4, 2016, quoted Fredericton police who had said Organigram was the only legal medical marijuana dispensary in the province. Fredericton police have since corrected that information, to clarify that Organigram is the only legal producer in the province. 

A new medical marijuana dispensary is open in Saint John, and owners say police warnings won’t deter them from providing customers with medication.

The company, HBB Medical Inc., has opened its third dispensary in New Brunswick — adding to its existing facilities in Fredericton and Moncton.

HBB Medical Inc. co-owner Brock Merchant said their dispensaries provide a variety of products and a level of accessibility that dispensaries authorized by Health Canad can’t provide. The dispensary offers traditional forms, along with cookies, hard candies and tinctures.

READ MORE: Fredericton marijuana dispensary hopes to set high standards for industry ahead of legalization

“We’re here for the people. We’re here to show knowledge because this is a whole new industry,” Merchant said.

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Merchant said education is the most important thing and tells Global News it’s important for dispensaries to be able to provide customers with information on how to safely use and consume medicinal marijuana. He added ordering products online can be dangerous, especially for first-time users.

Members of the Saint John Police Force were not available for comment, but the Fredericton Police Force released a statement on Sept. 1 saying there is only one legal producer in New Brunswick — OrganiGram, located in Moncton.

HBB Medical opened its Fredericton locations in May.

READ MORE: N.B. medical marijuana test lab sees opportunity in legalization

“Over the past few months, drug officers have opened up a file, and been following up,” the release said.

It continues to say that the dispensary has a licence to produce and possess medicinal marijuana, but not to dispense it.

“There has been no building permit/zoning approval issued for the facility, but since the federal government is still considering legislation around the production and sale of medical marijuana, it is also not captured in any zoning bylaws,” Fredericton police wrote.

They said, for the time being, that unauthorized dispensaries are “trafficking in a controlled substance contrary to the CDSA Act, and could face criminal charges or be searched via a search warrant pursuant to Section 11 of the CDSA Act,” police said.

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The statement also says complaints will be dealt with on a “case-by-case basis” and that the Fredericton police are currently working with law enforcement officials to determine what happens next, while they await the release of the ‘Blair Report.’

“If we get raided … unfortunately we’ll have to jump back in it and stand back up, and show the people we want to be here,” Merchant said.

READ MORE: Charges ‘inevitable’ for Saint John medical marijuana dispensary: lawyer

HBB Medical Inc. customer Chris Searle was one of the first people to stop in to the new location.  He uses marijuana to cope with his anxiety and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He said he’s been driving to Fredericton to get his medication and is happy to see the new location open.

“Having these guys in Saint John now, it’s giving me access to my medication. I don’t have to wait five days to get it through the mail,” Searle said.

Merchant said the company will also be opening locations in Rothesay, N.B., and Dartmouth, N.S.

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