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I had recently re-entered the foray of cannabis activism after a number of years of resigning myself to letter writing campaigns and providing information to those I knew who needed it.
I had lost my purpose. I stopped protesting many years before and hid behind various obligations as an excuse for not putting my best foot forward in the march for cannabis freedom, the very culture I had once prided myself as having championed for so long.
As I sat scrolling through my newsfeed one morning a few years back, I notice a post about a Cannabis Dispensary in Lower Sackville, NS locked out of their store and being threatened with product seizures and an eviction for providing cannabis to Medical patients authorized to possess and consume under the governments Medical Marijuana program.
I had witnessed the local raids of numerous storefronts and personal grows and the fight they even to this day, go through. As I continued to read the stories from across Canada and the US of countless others I wept internally. Bemoaning yet another, being persecuted by police and fellow tenants. I had seen enough!
All across the country the cannabis industry and patients were feeling the wrath from the last throws of Harper draconianism. Raids on cannabis providers and compassion clubs, and the continued wave of arrests of patients, growers and dispensary staff were the primary fear on many minds.
I had never stepped inside a Cannabis dispensary or lounge and knew very little about what purpose they serve in the community besides just selling weed. When I first met Heidi Chartrand, owner at Higher Living Wellness Center Inc, the company was undergoing a very tumultuous time, and little did I know then, that this firecracker of a woman was to return me to a path I had almost forgotten existed.
I was a medical cannabis patient, but fearing further detriment to my heath, I continued to get my medicine from my usual sources rather than ingest the inferior products (some later deemed poisoned) that the Licensed Producer system was providing the sick. I had nothing against dispensaries, I just thought that's where sick people go to smoke and cough, as I envisioned a scene from some movie with everyone standing around an IV pole sucking a vaporizer pen and coughing out incomplete sentences to one other.
Anyone who has visited Higher Living Wellness Center Inc. at their Dartmouth location will immediately know this to be as far from accurate as my imagination would permit.
From the smiling faces greeting you as you enter the door, to the shelves lined with every product you could need to ensure your medical needs are well taken care of. The knowledgeable owner and staff take the time to ensure you select the right cannabis products for your needs and budget. It has come along way from those early days in Sackville, and so has the industry.
Higher Living was one of the premier adoptees of MUMM's dispensary standards program, priding themselves on providing a consistently quality product with a level of service you would expect of one of Nova Scotias most popular locations.
Continue down the hall and you enter the lounge, a welcoming place of refuge for many local and visiting patients. A bustling hive of activity, within moments, my ill conceived notions of what I would see behind that door were gone. Over time I would bare witness to many important people and events in the cannabis movement grace that couch, big and small. What I did see, was that every one of them, regardless of stature, age, or illness, was treated the same. They all loved each other and genuinely cared about patients and ensuring they are provided the best possible care.
I watch as they support local artisans and the community at large. Engaging the general public with comedy shows, organized events, and information sessions from the likes of Chris Backer, Hippy Lloyd Maracle, and other passionate and engaged people that enable patients, friends, and loved ones to come together in a safe and supportive environment.
It isn't a new concept, compassion clubs and lounges have been an integral part of the medical cannabis community for years. They exist in many communities and act as hubs of information, compassion, and access to safe medicine for thousands of people.
What is new, is the threat posed to their very existence. With legalization looming, governments are gearing up to shape the policy that will govern a fledgling industry into the future. With the Federal governments hands off approach to regulation, and only providing the basic framework to build upon, the provinces are left to form the meat and potatoes of day to day governance. For the first time, the dispensary model has the potential to be legitimized or wiped from the map.
With the city of Vancouver leading the charge, the rest of Canada has a viable system of checks and balances to refer too. The cry for more time has fallen on deaf ears, both federally and publicly. The provinces and councils that don't act now to consult with the public will be ill prepared come game day. With a country wide mail order system already in place and enshrined in new draft law, the provinces are left with the task of how it will be distributed inside provincial borders.
Ordering your Medicine from a commercial industry that has repeatedly shown its inability for compassion, audacity to poison, and ineptitude at delivery is your choice. However, you should also have the choice to support your local community by purchasing from a local Dispensary where you get a quality standard that no LP could stand up too.
We don't purchase our pharma prescriptions from a manufacturer. We go to someone knowledgeable of all the benefits and risks associated; a Pharmacist. Dispensaries are the cannabis pharmacy. Inside you will find trained, experienced staff that are steeped in the wealth of information available and guide you step by step to find the best treatment for you.
The compassion clubs, dispensaries, and lounges that speckle our beautiful country are a vital access point for thousands of people in the community. Often giving a product away to ensure someone in need is not left without. They embrace and participate by sponsoring many local events and most importantly of all employ Canadian people by supporting the local and national craft industries that make our nation a top mention on the world stage.
Don't miss the chance to have your voice heard when the government comes asking. Tell them that Dispensaries, lounges and compassion clubs are a necessary and vital part of our community and need to be protected.
Thanks for reading.
Peace and Love.
For more information about the people and companies mentioned in this piece, please visit their websites at: