Closed in Parksville by the RCMP, medical marijuana dispensary looks to neighbouring communities

Phoenix won't say exactly where they might set up shop, however

Phoenix Pain Management Society — Parksville’s medical pot dispensary that was raided and shut down by Mounties earlier this month — may be moving to a neighbouring community.

“We’re going to try to be welcomed into a community close by Parksville,” confirmed the dispensary’s managing director Akil Pessoa Friday morning from Nanaimo.

While he declined to say what neighbouring community he intends to set up shop in, Pessoa offered “we want to make sure everything is hammered down, that we’ve dotted our i’s and crossed our t’s” before making a presentation to a local council.

He said North Nanaimo and locations surrounding Parksville are options for the dispensary’s new site, noting Parksville isn’t out of the question either.

This comes after Oceanside RCMP raided Phoenix’s dispensary at the end of Middleton Avenue April 2, seizing dried marijuana, marijuana derivatives and cash.

Police arrested Karl Mitchell, one of the dispensary’s volunteer staff members, who was later released on a promise to appear in Nanaimo Provincial Court.

The building remains empty with a bright red city bylaw notice on the front door stating: “this property has been used in respect of the manufacture, ingestion, use, sharing, sale, trade, or barter of a controlled substance.”

Last week, the City of Vancouver made headlines with city staff’s proposal to enact regulations for medical marijuana dispensaries, of which the city has approximately 80.

The regulations would see cannabis retailers pay a $30,000 licensing fee, notify the public before opening a store that must be located at least 300 metres from schools, community centres and each other.

Pessoa, and many pot activists, have been fighting for the right to operate medical marijuana dispensaries despite the fact that they’re illegal.

He called Vancouver’s proposed regulations “a good thing” but noted there are finer details to look into to make the regulations work for dispensary operators.

“Like any new regulatory policy all the nuances haven’t been thought through,” said Pessoa. “On the upside there’s a regulatory model on the table that can be debated and used as a touch point for others — these are all extremely good things.”

But Parksville Mayor Marc Lefebvre said despite Vancouver’s stance, he won’t be following suit.

“I’ll never agree to a dispensary because they aren’t allowed to sell drugs and that’s why the RCMP shut them down,” Lefebvre told The NEWS. “Right now the law is very clear on that.”

Canadian medical marijuana users have had a hazy year.

Under the old rules, the Marijuana Medical Access Regulations (MMAR) medical marijuana licence holders were allowed to grow their own pot or find designated growers.

Those regulations were to be replaced in April of last year with a new program called the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR), which directs medical pot patients to purchase their cannabis from federally-licenced Health Canada approved facilities.

However, a court injunction was granted at the 11th hour keeping the MMAR program alive for existing patients after an uproar from licence holders who claimed the new rules were unfair.

Advocates are eagerly awaiting a court decision.

Meanwhile, a University of British Columbia (UBC) Cannabis Access Regulations study is examining how new federal pot regulations in Canada impact a patient’s access to medical cannabis.

UBC PhD student Rielle Capler, who is spearheading the study, called access to medical marijuana a “complex and contentious” issue.

Capler confirmed “some patients spoke to us of the difficulties they were having with legal access” to medical marijuana, a reason many turn to dispensaries and likely a cause of the recent proliferation of dispensaries in Canada.

“There were a number of patients who participated in our study that were using cannabis therapeutically outside of the legal regulations,” she said. “This doesn’t necessarily mean they couldn’t access it legally — our analysis will shed more light on why they were not accessing it under the federal rules.”

Capler confirmed the study is in preliminary stages and will be complete in a few months.

— With files from Auren Ruvinsky and Tamsyn Burgmann, The Canadian Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Parksville man arrested after stabbing incident at makeshift camp near city mall

Oceanside RCMP report 28-year-old man taken into custody without incident

‘100 Oceanside Men Who Give a Damn’ donates $9,500 to hospice society

OHS provides services free of charge to palliative clients and their families

Parksville runner ready to raise funds for charity

Watson to run half-marathon with daughter Lauren

B.C. records new COVID-19 death, 85 more cases; Horgan calls on celebrity help

This brings the total number of active confirmed cases to 531 across the province

Horvat scores 2 as Vancouver Canucks beat Blues 5-2 in NHL playoff opener

Game 2 in best-of-seven series goes Friday night

Old-growth forest defenders in Campbell River call for B.C. forest minister’s resignation

Protestors outside North Island MLA’s office ask government to stop old-growth logging

Teachers to get 2 extra days to prepare for students’ return, now set for Sept. 10

Students will first start with orientation and learn rules of COVID-19 classroom policies

High-volume littering at Cape Scott draws ire from hiking groups

Popular Vancouver Island hiking spot not closing, but frustration about crowding grows

SFU to drop ‘Clan’ varsity team name

The ‘Clan’ name is shortened from ‘Clansmen,’ and was introduced roughly 55 years ago

New Tory leader must build a strong team in Commons and for the campaign: Scheer

Scheer marked his final day in the House of Commons today as leader of the Opposition

B.C. to hire 500 more COVID-19 contact tracers ahead of fall

Contract tracers add an ‘extra layer’ in the fight against the novel coronavirus

More than $800,000 in suspected cocaine seized from ship near Victoria

RCMP Dive Team suspects more narcotics had been stored below ship’s waterline

Most Read