As Legalization Looms, Cannabis Dispensaries Wrestle With Whether to Close Now to Go Legit Later

Article by CBC News

As legalization looms, pot dispensaries wrestle with whether to close now to go legit later Facebook LinkedIn Email Reddit Most marijuana dispensaries want to go legit. Under new rules, they may be shut out later if they exist now CBC News Marijuana dispensaries have a variety of strains and types available, but under current Canadian law selling the product in storefronts is illegal. (Lucy Nicholson/Reuters)

Justin Loizos is a cannabis convert. After dealing with chronic pain for years as a result of multiple sclerosis, he eventually found the medication he needs in the form of medical marijuana.

He’s such a believer in the drug’s potential that he launched Just Cannabis, a dispensary providing medical marijuana to a small stable of clients in the Toronto area.

He makes sure his clients have a federal license to buy and his supply comes from licensed growers. But even he says he’s operating in the “grey area” between legal and illegal. He’s not obtaining product from black market sources or selling it to recreational users, but he is running afoul of federal regulations that dictate medical marijuana can only be shipped to legitimate customers through the mail.

‘The safest path’

Legalization on Oct. 17 is going to bring big changes to the industry, and people like Loizos are eager to be on the right side of the law when the day they have been waiting for finally comes. But in Ontario, where his store is located, the government has been unequivocal — anyone involved in the illegal side of the business today will be shut out once it’s legal.

“A lot of businesses are a little bit nervous right now,” says Tania Cyalume, a former co-owner of another Toronto-area dispensary which was called Queens of Cannabis.

Loizos says his lawyer “wants me to take the route of least resistance … the safest path,” he says. “I’m trying not to screw myself in the sense of trying to go as legal as possible.” Despite the risks, he’s continuing to give his customers product because they need it and he says some have no other reliable way of obtaining it.

Read the full article here.

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