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“We’re basically providing medicine to patients”

Medical marijuana dispensary opens downtown


One of the operators of GW Weed Emporium, who asked not to be named, stands behind the counter of the downtown shop. The medical marijuana dispensary, the first of its kind in the city, opened its doors recently at its downtown location.

By Graeme McNaughton/The Oshawa Express

Those looking to smoke up for medical reasons now have another option closer to home.

To little fanfare and no buildup, the GW Weed Emporium opened its doors on Simcoe Street between King and Dundas on April 1. And it was no joke – the store’s display cabinets were filled with various strains of marijuana, as well as other products – such as chocolate, honey and soda – containing THC, the psychoactive component in cannabis, and other smoking paraphernalia.

However, the store is not open for any member of the public to buy product – you need a prescription first.

“Basically, we’ve seen a lot of patients are not getting their medicine and they’re having to source out other outlets to get their pain medication, and we basically are advocates and believers that cannabis does work for ailments. We would like to help those people, and that’s why we’re here,” one of the store’s owners, who asked not to be identified, tells The Oshawa Express.

To register at the store, prospective patients must bring in a prescription from a doctor or any other supporting documents. Only those accepted will be allowed to purchase product from the store.

“Not anyone can just walk in the door and have marijuana. It doesn’t work like that. We’re providing medicine to patients.”

At least prospective patient, who asked not to be identified, says she is happy such a business is opening its doors in Oshawa, saying the marijuana for sale here looks to be better than that “mail order shit” she would get before.

It was because of users such as that and others throughout the city and the region that the dispensary’s owners decided to open up shop.

“We knew that there was a strong, strong need in Durham and somebody had to take the step. We’re not looking to challenge any laws or anything like that,” he says.

“Our main focus is to help patients. That’s truly, sincerely all we care about.”

Legal or illegal

Under the current law, only those who have been given a prescription from a doctor can access medical marijuana, with limits given on a monthly basis for how many grams can be purchased, as well as the maximum THC content. Then, the patient must register with a licensed producer, which will then mail out orders.

According to Health Canada, there are 30 licensed producers in Canada, with 17 of them based in Ontario.

While storefront dispensaries like GW Weed Emporium are illegal under the law, many have been allowed to operate throughout the country where marijuana is seen as a low priority. In fact, Vancouver and Victoria dispensaries are able to obtain licenses from their respective municipalities. In Toronto, there are approximately 50 such establishments.

This hasn’t prevented any dispensaries from being shut down. In late January, the Good Weeds Lounge in the east end of Toronto was shut down and its owners arrested for possession and trafficking after it was found people were allegedly allowed to smoke on site, and prescriptions were not required.

According to the lounge’s website, the site has been reopened.

David Selby, a spokesperson for Durham police, tells The Oshawa Express that the force has been made aware of Oshawa’s first medical marijuana dispensary and is “keeping an eye on it.”

Jerry Conlin, the director of municipal law enforcement and licensing services for the city, did not return The Oshawa Express’ request for comment before press time.

The dispensary’s owner, however, says that the facility is needed in the community.

“Unfortunately, the government is failing. Spend a day here, and you’ll know what I’m talking about,” he says.

“There’s a lot of sick people that don’t have access. The doctors have no problem pumping out the OxyContin, the Percocet, the fentanyl patches, which then get sold on the streets. People are dying from it right here in Oshawa.”