Patients Using Unauthorized Dispensaries Risk Not Having Their Prescriptions Renewed


Medical marijuana users who buy their pot from illegal dispensaries risk not having their prescriptions renewed.

That’s the warning doctors at a London clinic specializing in prescribing pot are giving their patients, said Ronan Levy, director of Canadian Cannabis Clinics.

But the operator of London’s newest dispensary – engaged in a showdown with police that illustrates confusion over Canada’s pot laws – calls the warning “bullying.”

Setting up shop in London more than a year ago, doctors at Canadian Cannabis Clinics assess patients and write prescriptions for medical marijuana. Though a referral from a family doctor is preferred, it’s not required at the clinic.

“Absolutely we do not recommend that patients purchase through dispensaries,” Levy said from Vancouver.

The proliferation of dispensaries across Canada – there’s an estimated 350 – is causing confusion among patients on the legal status of the businesses, Levy said.

Under federal law, authorized patients can only buy marijuana for medicinal use from a few dozen government-approved commercial producers.

“If a patient goes to a dispensary and purchases from there, as opposed to one of Health Canada’s licensed producers, they won’t continue to provide a prescription to those patients,” Levy said of his doctors.

Hundreds of London’s authorized medical marijuana users are flocking to its three dispensaries.

At Tasty Budd’s, regional manager Jordan Johnson said requiring patients to order marijuana by mail from government-approved producers is unconstitutional because it denies users fair and easy access to their medicine.

Some medicinal users don’t have credit cards or can’t afford a money order, as required by commercial producers, said Johnson, adding shipping also takes time and raises privacy concerns.

“It’s bullying,” he said of the vow not to renew prescriptions of dispensary-using patients.

Visiting dispensaries or so-called compassion clubs lets patients see the product they’re buying, avoid minimum purchase requirements and speak with clerks, most of whom are medicinal users, Johnson said.

But Levy said buying from dispensaries risks patients’ health.

“All the cannabis they get is untested,” he said, explaining its potency isn’t known and the weed could be contaminated with mould or bacteria.

Dispensaries say they get their marijuana from growers approved by the government to produce pot for themselves and other users.

Conceding some people may “fall through the cracks,” Levy said using dispensaries is better than buying off the street.

There are 18 Canadian Cannabis Clinics locations in Canada, including one at 279 Wharncliffe Rd. N. Opening in June 2015, the London site has seen 1,600 patients and received referrals from more than 350 local doctors, making it the firm’s busiest clinic, Levy said.

“The need for our clinic(s)

exists because the vast majority of -doctors . . . are not comfortable -prescribing medical cannabis,” Levy said.

Critics blame the rise of dispensaries on foot-dragging by the Liberal government on its promise to legalize marijuana next spring.

Until then, cities have been left to police the dispensaries without guidance from the federal government.

London police raided Tasty Budd’s last month, seizing its inventory and charging its owner and an employee with drug trafficking. The shop reopened a week later, rebranding itself as a members-only compassion club.

News Moderator: Katelyn Baker
Full Article: Patients Using Unauthorized Dispensaries Risk Not Having Their Prescriptions Renewed
Author: Dale Carruthers
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Photo Credit: Reuters
Website: The London Free Press