The ink is barely dry Monday’s Utility and Review Board decision declaring one medical marijuana dispensary illegal, but the owners of Auntie’s Health and Wellness Centre are busy preparing to open their doors at 1547 Barrington St. this Friday — with or without a business occupancy permit.
Owner Shirley Martineau’s dispensary will focus on patients battling cancer.
“How am I supposed to say ‘no’ to someone who has cancer?” Martineau said on Tuesday. “Just because the government won’t allow me to stay open to save lives.”
Martineau believes in the healing power of cannabis oil, saying it helped a friend fight cancer.
She has since learned to make the oil and wants to share that knowledge with others in the form of ‘how-to’ seminars.
When a patient battling cancer comes in for help, she will provide a one-on-one consultation on how to administer the cannabis oil over a six-week process.
“That’s what it’s all about really,” she said. “Teaching people how to help themselves.”
Martineau has been checking with neighbours to make sure they are comfortable sharing the street with a cannabis distributor.
She says the response has been mixed, with the main concern being clients smoking in public.
But Martineau assured them that won’t happen.
“(Customers) have a code of conduct they have to sign,” she said. “And with any rule that they break I will take their membership back.”
Every customer will have to show proof of prescription. They get a sealed package that cannot be opened within 200 metres of the store.
Martineau says she’s applied for a business occupancy permit. If the city denies her request, then she plans to appeal the decision.
But HRM spokeswoman Tiffany Chase says that they will not issue a business occupancy for any medical marijuana dispensary that doesn’t follow federal regulations.
Chase said the city has already denied two applications from Tasty Budds, one for the Cole Harbour location and another for 8 Oland Crescent in Bayers Lake.
“We would apply the same approach to any other applications that are submitted to us,” said Chase.
She added that HRM is looking to bring Tasty Budds into compliance and is considering its next steps with their legal department.
Tasty Budds Compassion Club had been operating in a legal grey area in Nova Scotia for months.
In February, Halifax denied Tasty Budds a business occupancy permit for their storefront at 958 Cole Harbour Rd. They were to quick to appeal the decision to the UARB in April. On Monday the Board published their 28-page decision dismissing their appeal.
“The Board finds that the Appellant’s proposed business of the sale of medical marijuana, even to patients qualified to buy it, is currently illegal under the applicable federal legislation,” the board’s decision read.
Tasty Budds owner Mal McMeekin is planning to appeal again.
“We have patients who need access to medical marijuana,” he said on Tuesday. “We give them the direct access that they are allowed to have.”
Health Canada regulations stipulate that patients can only purchase their medical marijuana from a federally licenced grower.
There are over 24 licenced growers in Canada, but none in Nova Scotia. This means most patients will need to rely on mail orders to get their treatment.
McMeekin said business will continue at all their locations.
“There are people that are allowed to have (marijuana), and there are people that are legally allowed to buy it,” said McMeekin.
Now it’s just a question of who should be able to legally sell it.
Original publish date: Jul. 19, 2016