Halifax cannabis clinic strives to educate public on legal options

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The road to marijuana legalization in Canada has been riddled with dispensary raids.

And Halifax has had its fair share of raids over the past year.

“We’re almost up to a dozen situations where we’ve had open files, where businesses have been selling marijuana through a store front,” Brendan Elliott said, a senior communications adviser with the city.

Elliott says that until federal legislation is ironed out, all dispensaries operating in the municipality are considered illegal.

READ MORE: The highs and lows of pot legalization

“The federal government clearly states that you cannot sell marijuana, medical or otherwise, through a store front,” he said.

READ MORE: 11 charged after Halifax police raid 3 properties, seizing marijuana, cannabis resin

But cannabis clinics are a different story.

“We operate under Health Canada and the government’s guidelines, as well as the College of Physicians and Surgeons,” Diandra Phipps said, the manager of National Access Cannabis in Halifax.

Phipps says much of the public isn’t sure of what legal route they’re supposed to take to fill their prescriptions.

“A lot of people don’t know that the over-the-counter sale of cannabis is illegal,” she said.

Cannabis clinics don’t have or distribute marijuana on-site, and work with patients on a referral basis only.

The medical professionals they have include a nurse and physician, who assess patients and prescribe the appropriate treatment.
“We would then send them off to a licensed producer, and there are 41 licensed producers across Canada, and all the marijuana is actually shipped via Canada Post,” Phipps said.

As of now, Phipps says that’s the legal route people are supposed to follow to fill medical marijuana prescriptions.

“They’re [patients] not legally authorized to have their product from a dispensary because dispensaries aren’t held to any framework or checks and balances,” Phipps said.

She adds that not getting cannabis directly through a licensed producer comes with the risk of contamination.

“Even though not all products could be laced with other drugs or have containments in them, or have heavy metals and pesticides and fungicides in them, there’s no way to know.”