As Health Canada continues to stand behind their outdated stance on medical cannabis while the legalization of marijuana continues to domino across the States, Vancouver is beginning to see the ripple effects. The city has seen a slew of medical dispensaries open in the last year alone, aptly being nicknamed “The Green Rush”. Yet even more dispensaries are expected to continue to open. However, despite VPD’s vocal stance in support of dispensaries, they have recently begun to crack down on several dispensaries in the area.
As a result, we are hearing that many new patients are not sure what to look for when choosing a medical dispensary (also called “compassion clubs”). Non-tokers are worried they are fronts for acquiring illicit drugs. Vapour lounges receive a bad rep as well; many thinking them ghetto, unsafe venues for drug use. Some are apprehensive about the membership process, fearing having their name in a system and getting arrested later on. Those opposed to dispensaries, are not impressed with the ease in which patients are able to acquire pot.
In an effort to dispel some of the negative press that dispensaries are getting, we want to explain how The Healing Tree works, and what you should expect from your medical dispensary.
First and foremost, we will continue to reiterate that The Healing Tree will not serve any patient who does not have valid photo ID and current medical documentation. When you become a member at THT, your file will always contain your medical documentation and will always be available to you. We are also happy to serve members from other dispensaries, however we will insist that you provide photo ID and your member card at every visit. This is not only to protect your safety, but ours as well (in the event of any member card theft).
A good dispensary will welcome any authorities who happen to visit. It is commonly known that officers will often visit stores to observe how the process works. Let it be known that both locations of The Healing Tree have had a few visits and had no issues with the authorities. No officer may take names or have access at our computer systems at this time without a warrant. Privacy and discretion is always a concern here.
On the subject of medical documentation, this definition can vary between dispensaries. It is important that you ask yourself
“Is this dispensary here to make a quick sale, or are they asking me questions about my needs?”
Be wary of any dispensary whose membership process is “quick & easy”. There is a difference between efficiency and not having standards.
Here at the Healing Tree, we insist that you take the time to go through the whole membership process. It can be a pain, but it is a necessary to make sure that your file is kept up to date and current, not unlike a doctor’s office. Should you require an assessment for medical documentation, we offer appointments with our onsite naturopath on selected days. However, we encourage you to speak with your family doctor about your medical concerns before coming in. If your doctor has assessed you and written you a medical note of diagnosis within the last 6 months, we can accept this as medical documentation as well and help you through the membership process.
We believe that a medical dispensary’s main goal is to provide cannabis access to patients who have proof of medical need. Make sure your dispensary is a clean and pleasant environment, staffed with professional, attentive bud tenders. There should be a larger focus on health & wellness and less on cannabis/420 culture. Good bud tenders will get to know each patient’s medical needs before offering strains to try. It is understood that some medical conditions can be quite difficult for our patients to discuss for personal reasons. Therefore kindness and discretion is key. Patients’ information and conversations should be treated with the same discretion and confidence as a doctor’s office would.
We hope that armed with this new information, you feel more empowered when choosing a medical dispensary to supply your medication. It is up to all the medical dispensaries in Vancouver to uphold standards that show the city that marijuana isn’t just about “pot” or “weed” or “getting high” but about pain management, healing and alternative medicine.