Illegal Recreational Dispensaries in Canada are Hurting the Medical Cannabis Industry


Jenna Valleriani is a PhD Candidate in Sociology and the Collaborative Program in Addiction Studies at the University of Toronto. Her research looks at social movements, entrepreneurship and the emergence of new industries, focusing on the transition to the MMPR in Canada.  She posted a thoughtful discussion of some important issues that regulators and politicians must face as they address the path to legalization for adult-use and the strengthening of the medical marijuana program in Canada:

I have always been a big proponent of dispensaries because I worked in what could be considered a “best practice” club as part of my initial research. As I was reading the research and trying to place how these organizations “fit”, I also saw how valuable their services are to patients. But, with the influx of dispensaries opening in Toronto and Vancouver, the competition to acquire members, I can’t help but be critical of what’s happening around us.

In the meantime, the premature openings of what is really ‘recreational’ access are shaping a more complex argument. I should start out by saying if you want to open a recreational storefront, then by no means let me stop you: Canadians want access to a recreational market – that is clear – but don’t call yourself medical and then implement the type of intake procedures and overall practices that make all medical dispensaries look like shady, back alley dispensers.

She sees five ways in which many of the “pop-up” dispensaries are potentially getting in the way of real progress:

  1. Dispensaries tend to be more expensive than MMPR LPs
  2. Many dispensaries don’t test or provide proof of doing so
  3. Some dispensaries only pretend to be “medical”
  4. Dispensaries don’t serve rural patients
  5. Dispensaries are illegal and should make it clear to customers who may not realize it

Read Jenna Valleriani’s “5 Ways New “Recreational” Dispensaries Are Delegitimizing a Good Thing”:

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