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New medical pot dispensary opens in Yaletown

Vancouver’s trendy Yaletown neighborhood saw its first dispensary for medical marijuana opened on July 14, as medical cannabis advocates claim that Health Canada is implementing “drastic plans” to restrict access across Canada. The new facility, Yaletown Medical, located at #153-1020 Mainland Street, invited media and the general public in for tours on July 14.

“Dispensaries like Yaletown Medical serve a vital need for both patients and doctors in our community,” medical marijuana activist and dispensary spokesman Jacob Hunter told the Tyee. “Especially in the downtown core, many patients do not have access to a vehicle and their illness precludes long commutes.

These community based dispensaries are not only their best option, they are often a patient's only option. A person in need of medication should not be expected to travel across town, or wait for weeks while medication arrives via the mail. Further, the proposal by Health Canada to force all medical marijuana through the mail ignores the reality that in this country legal medical marijuana is often seized, stolen or otherwise prevented from getting to patients. These community based dispensaries are absolutely vital.”

Health Canada's proposed restrictions to the medical marijuana program have drawn criticism from patients and advocates across Canada. Critics say the changes seek to remove personal and designated production licenses, as well as patient identification, while forcing patients to purchase from a small number of commercial suppliers via the mail. Currently, patients have the option to purchase from Health Canada's sole commercial contractor, but less than 25 per cent of registered patients do so. Reasons cited by patients include low quality, low medical efficacy, lack of strain selection, and high prices.

“There is no question that medical marijuana access is under attack in this country. Health Canada is drastically restricting its medical marijuana program in outright defiance of successful constitutional challenges” Hunter told the Tyee.

“We have also seen evidence in the media that Health Canada is ignoring court decisions which favour dispensaries and pressuring municipalities to shut them down. These attacks on medical marijuana defy public opinion, they defy court decisions, and they defy the evidence on the efficacy of dispensaries. As a patient, I am thankful for activists like those at Yaletown Medical who are willing to stand up to these Draconian attacks.”

Tom Sandborn covers health policy and labour beats for The Tyee. He welcomes your feedback and story tips at [email protected].

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