Makes Sense to Use Existing System for Cannabis Distribution
The Canadian Association of Medical Cannabis Dispensaries (CAMCD) agrees with the Ontario Public Service Employees Union that there is no need to reinvent the wheel. “Dispensaries have 20 years of expertise in providing safe and dignified access to medical cannabis along with education on its use,” said CAMCD President Jamie Shaw, “It makes the most sense to utilize the existing distribution system to sell cannabis in a legalized context.”
In most of the US states that have legalized cannabis for medical and social use, cannabis products are sold in specialized dispensaries. Colorado’s legalization was specifically built on the pre-existing dispensary model, and when it was first introduced, required all legal retail enterprises to be existing medical cannabis retailers.
According to Dana Larsen, CAMDC’s Vice President, Canada and the provinces
should follow Colorado’s lead and allow dispensaries to take their place in the legal market. “Patients prefer dispensaries over both the black market and current legal options. They like and trust this system,” noted Larsen. “If a goal of legalization is to put an end to the black market, this is the best way accomplish that.”
“It is not surprising that provincial and private liquor stores are interested in this newly emerging legal cannabis market, as no doubt are the pharmacies, we have seen this in other jurisdictions,” Said Larsen. However he notes that cannabis is a completely different substance with different storage and handling requirements, and patterns of use. “These retailers would have to make major changes to accommodate cannabis sales,” Larsen added.
Rielle Capler, a CAMCD advisor, also sees dispensary retail distribution as an important economic opportunity for Canadians. “We have the opportunity here to create a new type of legal small business that would promote entrepreneurship and help to create new jobs, which will greatly benefit the economy, ” said Capler.
Dispensaries are already being licensed and regulated in some municipalities to address public health and safety concerns. “CAMCD has developed a thorough certification program to support dispensaries in following best practices and providing the highest quality of care” said Shaw, adding “this should be the basis of regulations for retail distribution”.
The CAMCD program includes regulations for age restrictions. “We need to have regulations based on evidence and that weigh the potential benefits against the potential risks, including the risk of the black-market”, said Capler.
Washington has deliberately kept the the sales of cannabis separate from alcohol.
Capler cautions “Cannabis and alcohol do not mix well together. Selling both products at the same outlet could promote unintended consequences. We want to see a public health approach for legalization in Canada that will increase potential benefits and reduce potential harms.”