Health Canada says medical marijuana store in Ottawa not licensed to sell pot
Medical marijuana shop on Somerset
Joanne Schnurr, CTV Ottawa
Published Thursday, July 11, 2013 5:33PM EDT
Along with spring rolls and won ton soup, you can now get your prescription filled for medical marijuana in Ottawa's Chinatown. A pot shop for medical users has just opened its doors on Somerset Street but Health Canada says it isn't within its legal framework. Health Canada says it hasn't issued a license to this place nor will it ever support a storefront like this to sell marijuana. But that didn't stop people from trying to buy some today.
After a horrific car crash broke her neck and back, Cheryl Angenent turned to medical marijuana to help deal with the pain.
“I can’t deal with it any other way,” says Angenent, as she enters the store.
Angenent was excited to hear she could get what she needs at the Greater Ottawa Health Advocacy Centre on Somerset Street. But Angenent left with only a form for a doctor to fill out saying she requires marijuana for medical reasons.
"You can't get a doctor,” says Angenent, “no doctors anywhere and no doctor you go to will not provide you with medical marijuana because they don't consider it medicine
Since it opened last week, the store has had a steady stream of customers. Media reports say many of them were getting marijuana even without the proper paperwork required by Health Canada, frustrating for doctors like MarK Ujjainwalla, who's been trying to get a licensed clinic.
"To do it in a way that's haphazard,” says Ujjainwalla, an addictions medicine specialist, “and potentially illegal, doesn't make sense you can just pop up and do it.”
Today, all that changed. This man was told he'd need a doctors' note first.
"It's much easier to go up on the corner,” says Bob Jamison, a medical marijuana user, “and buy pot than it is to get it from one of these places.”
CTV Ottawa tried to get into the Greater Ottawa Health Advocacy Centre but was told it was no longer allowing media access to the store. A man named Cameron Lodge identified himself as a part owner and manager and says the previous man who had been running the shop up until yesterday has been sent back to Victoria for training. Lodge says he’s in charge now and says the store is following all federal regulations. But Health Canada disputes that. The department says no licenses have been issued yet to any medical marijuana producer, aside from the main organization that Health Canada uses to distribute the medicine. And Health Canada maintains it wouldn't support a storefront business anyway.
“There is no contemplation of storefront retail via these licensed producers,” says Jeannine Ritchot with Health Canada, “rather they'd be shipping marijuana via a secure methods”
That begs the question then: why the business is still in business if it isn't legal. Ottawa Police are looking into it.
"Right now,” says Constable Chuck Benoit, “the main topic is what he's doing and what he's selling and if it's legal.”
As for those people buying from the Greater Ottawa Health Advocacy Centre, Health Canada says because the store is outside the regulatory framework, people therefore aren't legally authorized to possess medical marijuana from this establishment.