Article by Hamilton Spectator
It’s not really anyone’s fault that medical marijuana dispensaries exist in a legislative Wild West zone. Dispensing medical pot to people with the appropriate documentation is legal. Selling pot products to anyone else is still not legal.
But it will be fairly soon, once the federal government and the provinces get together and hammer out distribution channels and a host of other serious questions and issues. Canada is not yet ready for legalized marijuana. It will be soon, which is why entrepreneurs across the nation are trying to stay ahead of the game, and dispensaries are sprouting at a great rate. Hamilton has something like 15, major centres such as Toronto and Vancouver have exponentially more.
How many of these establishments are sticking to the existing rules and only selling to people with legitimate papers authorizing medical marijuana? How many are cutting corners by having their own “experts” on hand to give that authorization? How many are pretty much selling to anyone who shows up saying they have a sore back?
We don’t know, and that’s the problem. You can’t blame entrepreneurs for wanting to get ready for legalization. It’s going to be big business, and there will be serious money to be made. But right now, if they do anything aside from following the rules around medical pot, they’re illegally distributing an illegal drug. Also known as trafficking.
It would be easy to sit back and point the finger of blame at Ottawa. Its long and arduous road leading to legalization has created the atmosphere in which dispensaries are thriving. That would be wrong, too. The moment Justin Trudeau publicly pledged to legalize — a step that has strong public support in most quarters — this situation was inevitable. The same thing happened in American jurisdictions that legalized. We’re among a handful of countries to do it on a national scale, so the impact and challenges are greater.