Medical cannabis patients in Canada are at the mercy of local law enforcement as local medically-focused dispensaries are targeted.
In August 2017 Mr. Justice Lofchik of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice ordered that a local cannabis dispensary could remain open on the condition they sell cannabis only to patients with a valid medical document. While a full hearing on the government’s mail order system is pending, the order was a powerful statement on the pressing need for brick and mortar solutions for patients in the community.
As dispensaries around Hamilton are being targeted and forced to close, patients are desperate for the remaining few to continue operations under the Lofchik order. Toronto cannabis lawyer Jack Lloyd argued the case and posited, you cannot prohibit dispensaries at a time when the government’s system is broken. In his case, Lloyd pointed out that in Allard v The Queen, Mr. Justice Phelan of the Federal Court said that dispensaries are at the heart of access and found the medical cannabis regime to be unconstitutional. In that case, the government did not appeal the decision but intended to fix the problem. It is not fixed.
“This goes right to the heart of patient access that we are fighting for,” says former pro hockey player and executive director of the not for profit group Medicinal My Way, Rob Frid. “The mail order system doesn’t work for everyone and we’ve seen that. Cutting patients off from their medicine can be dangerous. Storefronts in our communities can be the solution.”
The current mail order system requires computer literacy, computer access, a bank account, sufficient funds to make minimum purchases, no need for urgent purchases, no need for a range of strains/ products, and a home where you can receive cannabis by mail. For older cannabis patients or those of more modest means, this system does not constitute reasonable access. Local brick and mortar solutions stand to supplement the shortcomings of the mail-order system.
A storefront offers patients the option to shop around, see and smell the product, and speak with knowledgeable budtenders before purchasing their medication – a key experience not denied to patients collecting their pharmaceutical medication.
Representatives from Medicinal My Way have reached out to Hamilton mayor Fred Eisenberger and other city councillors to no response. Council can issue temporary licenses to the dispensaries so that service to medical cannabis patients can continue until the full hearing and review are complete. If Mayor Eisenberger and Chief Grit agree to uphold the Lofchik order and issue temporary licenses it would make Hamilton – already a leader in healthcare and health sciences- one of the first cities leading the way for improved cannabis patient care. Have your say by sending a letter to local government.