Marijuana dispensary opens in South Vancouver
Published Saturday, January 8, 2011 3:07PM PST
The director of a new medical marijuana dispensary in South Vancouver says the community has welcomed his business with open arms.
Jacob Hunter says the Imedikate Medical Cannabis Dispensary at 6128 Fraser Street has been "working out kinks" for about four weeks, and is fully prepared to serve the neighbourhood's unwell.
"We expect that many of the patients who were pre-existing in this community, who were probably purchasing from the street, will be able to come above board and purchase their medicine legally in a safe environment," he said.
Area residents told CTV News on Saturday they have no problem with the dispensary – and that more should be opened in the city. "Why not?" said Doug, who did not provide a last name. "It saves having the dealers hanging around the corners, saves the dealers hanging around the schools."
Hunter says police were alerted about the opening and responded only by asking employees to be cautious to avoid break-ins and thefts. There are bars on the windows, an alarm system and a safe to secure the pot, Hunter said.
There are five other dispensaries in the city, but Imedikate is the only one with an in-house doctor. Hunter says a physician spends between two and four hours per week at the office to assess patients whose regular doctors do not support medical marijuana.
"We hear a lot from patients that their doctor will simply say, ‘marijuana's a gateway drug,' or ‘marijuana will give you brain cancer,' or any other crazy thing that's simply not backed up by the science."
A common misconception is that doctors can write prescriptions for medical marijuana. Hunter says all potential clients need is written confirmation of a medical condition.
They must also promise not to re-sell their pot. If they do, their membership is revoked. "We've got people who are incredibly sick -- we're talking about elderly people, people's grandmothers, people's brothers and sisters, and they're suffering," Hunter said. "If someone's going to go and threaten our ability to alleviate that suffering for all those people, we simply can't work with them anymore."
By Saturday night, the dispensary had about 60 members – just a drop in the bucket of the 10,000 medical marijuana customers Hunter says exist in the city.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Nafeesa Karim