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Medical Patients Still See Unlicensed Dispensaries as Superior

Dispensary raids have been ongoing across the country since legalization last fall, and many communities have come to expect unlicensed cannabis sellers will be shut down sooner rather than later.

But when Halifax’s Farm Assist dispensaries were raided last week and activist/owner Chris Enns was arrested and charged, he indicated his intention to fight for the continued right to operate dispensaries with the claim regulations around medical cannabis are unconstitutional.

Enns, is already beginning a Nova Scotia Supreme Court case related to a traffic seizure of a large volume of product, and members of the medical cannabis community in Halifax have suggested his dispensaries were targeted—at the expense of the patients who use them.

Among the community of patients and advocates who surround Enns, support remains strong, and the will to fight courts for access is likewise evident.

Chris Backer, vice-chair of Maritimers Unite for Medical Marijuana (MUMMS), said, “These are places that have been established for years now, and people have come to count on them, and there’s an outcry from patients that are just at a loss, they’re devastated. They don’t know what to do without their meds.”

Other medical-access advocates have since chimed in.

Patient Alex LeBlanc, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, told Global News, “Since Farm Assists got shut down, there’s a lot of patients looking for meds in a lot of places, because that was a central location in Nova Scotia. Everyone is heartbroken. We’ve got no place to go, no place to access our medication.”

Debbie Stultz-Giffin, chair of MUMMS, said the lower prices available from unlicensed dispensaries are enormously valuable to many patients who are on fixed or low incomes and may be too disabled by medical conditions to work.

“The NSLC doesn’t carry all the products that patients require and often times the quality of medicine isn’t up to standards for patients,” she explained.

Jesse B. Staniforth's Bio Image
Jesse B. Staniforth

Jesse Staniforth reports on cannabis, food safety, and Indigenous issues. He is the former editor of WeedWeek Canada.

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