Some Halifax dispensaries refusing to close
Dispensaries across the Halifax Regional Municipality have been weighing their options regarding their place in the post-legalization world.
Some have decided to close their doors voluntarily and others have been raided. But some are planning to stay open for as long as they can.
“Until the government develops legislation that allows patients to access the forms of cannabis that they have been guaranteed a charter right too we’ll continue to fill that gap,” said Chris Enns, owner of Farm Assists dispensary.
While medical users can access products from Health Canada, advocates say that dispensaries provide expertise and products not found elsewhere.
“The major concern is that the patients aren’t going to get the education there that they need in regard to what strains will work for their particular conditions,” said Heidi Chartrand, whose storefront Higher Living Wellness Centre is no longer operating as a dispensary after she was raided and charged last month.
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Last week two dispensaries were raided and 10 people were arrested, prompting many others to shut down.
Nova Scotia Minister of Justice Mark Furey told Global News Morning Halifax that police enforcement of dispensaries will not change after Oct. 17.
“What you’re seeing is an ongoing enforcement strategy of our law enforcement community which I believe is in the best interest of Nova Scotians. We have to distinguish between legal recreational cannabis and and the position of some that medical marijuana is a public right. Medical Marijuana is administered through Health Canada and those issues addressed by Health Canada,” he said.
While both Enns and Chartrand have their issues with the legislative details of cannabis legalization, both agree it’s a sign of progress.
“I think each time we make a step forward whether it’s in terms of opening the door for medical patients or first allowing them to grow, then allowing them to produce extracts, now moving that post to allowing all Canadians to reasonably use cannabis. I think there’s still a lot of work to do but we’re moving in the right direction,” Enns said.
Chartrand said it’s only the beginning now that people are starting to openly talk about cannabis.
“There’s a conversation happening that wasn’t even happening yesterday which is really great. it just really sucks that they have bulldozed their way right through the medical community and it was essentially the medical community that [pushed] for legalization to even happen right now,” she said.
“If it wasn’t for people like the patients pushing the courts, pushing for access than this wouldn’t even be a conversation.”