Article by Tamara Hirsh, High! Canada
Last week, I stood on a bridge with several other members of my community and watched as the salmon struggled to make their way up Spencer Creek. People talked, smiled, took pictures and filmed video of this annual phenomenon. We stood by and marvelled as one salmon after another twisted and thrashed their way upstream and under the bridge out of sight, only to be swept back down the stream, back to where they started. And while I was fascinated on the one hand, it also made me a bit sad. I felt a need to either look away or jump into the creek and push them forward to their destination.
Now, I understand that their ultimate destination involves dying. But this is their journey. They are going to do it anyways. It’s how they survive as a species. I couldn’t help but think of the similarities between the salmon trying to move upstream against the waters of a rushing creek that will only ever flow downstream and the struggles of medical marijuana patients trying to move through the stigma associated with their means for survival. In the end, the community has the choice to stand by and witness the struggle or jump down into the creek and try to help move things along. The very same can be said for supporting medical marijuana dispensaries in terms of their ability to operate, regulate and meet the needs of their clientele like any other.
Whether you use cannabis, for medical purposes or otherwise, isn’t important. What is important is to understand that there are people within your community who have the right and requirement to use cannabis to survive. On June 11, 2015 the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that prohibiting the possession of or access to medical marijuana is an infringement of Section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in that it forced medical marijuana patients to face possible criminal charges and opt for riskier, less effective forms of treatment.
Over the past few years, Hamilton, Ontario has seen a boom in cannabis dispensaries and cannabis-related businesses as more advocates step into the light and curious adults begin to educate themselves on the benefits of medical marijuana. Based on customer reach, approximately 1 in 5 Hamiltonians are availing themselves of the services of these dispensaries.
In a unique call to action, Hamilton dispensary owners and supporters have come together to develop an initiative – a movement – called Hamilton Votes Dispensaries. These owners and supporters see first-hand the level of demand within their community, and they have a collective mandate to educate Hamilton voters as to which councillors support the rights of medical marijuana users and the dispensaries that provide this vital product and service.
The group responsible for Hamilton Votes Dispensaries sees this movement not just as an opportunity to come together as a business community for outcomes such as municipal regulation prior to legalization; they see it is a chance for the community at large to jump in the creek, show support and try to better understand the importance of reasonable access to medical marijuana for the patients who rely on it daily. Under the current system, the only way to legally purchase medical marijuana is online through a Licensed Producer (LP). It isn’t reasonable to wait for an unreliable mail system to deliver medication, and for some, it isn’t affordable. Dispensaries also offer their clientele face-to-face consultation and advice that cannot be provided through online services.
To join the movement or for more information, visit the Hamilton Votes Dispensaries Facebook page or come and listen to dispensary owners and spokespersons from Pacifico Life, Hamilton Village Dispensary, MMJ and Natural Green Healing speak about this important initiative at a press conference at the Sheraton Hotel in Hamilton on November 20th at 6:30pm.