With cannabis dispensaries popping up across Canada and frequent raids featured in the news, you may be wondering if these stores are legal.
You’ve probably heard that dispensaries operate within the “grey area” of current Canadian law. But what does that mean? Is it true?
In this post, we’ll explain in simple terms the legal issues surrounding dispensaries.
Are Dispensaries Legal?
In short, dispensaries are not legal in Canada. Currently, to legally sell marijuana, a company must meet the following requirements.
#1 Be a Health Canada Approved Licensed Producer (LP)
To sell marijuana in Canada, you must be licensed by Health Canada. If you’re wondering whether a company selling cannabis online is an LP, you can check the complete list here.
#2 Sell Only To Those With Medical Marijuana Prescriptions
Many dispensaries sell to anyone above age 18 or 19 regardless of whether they have a marijuana prescription. This is illegal under current Canadian law. To purchase medical marijuana from an LP, you must have a prescription, known as a “medical document,” that was provided by a qualified doctor.
This document will list:
The expiry date— This is the date you can no longer purchase or carry marijuana before getting a prescription renewal.
Grams per day— Similar to a regular prescription, it will tell you your daily dosage based on your condition.
THC limit— Sometimes doctors will put a limit that restricts you from buying marijuana strains with THC limits that would be inappropriate for your condition.
Some dispensaries may require you to become a member. On their membership form, they may ask you to list the medical reasons why you’re trying to obtain marijuana. However, you should note that this is not the same as getting a legal prescription.
#3 Only Provide Medical Marijuana Through Mail Service
Even when a company is an LP, they can only provide cannabis through mail service. This requirement makes every marijuana storefront currently illegal, which is why you often hear of dispensaries being raided and shut down.
When a patient wants to fill a prescription, they must register with their preferred LP and send their prescription. The LP will then ship their medicine within 2 days using Canada Post or another mail service.
Will Dispensaries Be Legal When Cannabis Is Legalized?
Cannabis, whether used for medicinal purposes or otherwise, is scheduled to become legal across Canada in July 2018.
You may be wondering if dispensaries will become legal at this time. How marijuana will be sold once it becomes legalized is still being determined but will vary by province. However, proposed laws indicate that the only storefronts selling cannabis will most likely be controlled through liquor boards or subsidiaries of liquor boards.
Even if other storefronts are permitted to sell marijuana, they will still need to be licensed. Dispensaries will not automatically become legal once cannabis is.
The best way to purchase medical cannabis is to obtain a medical document through a qualified doctor. With this prescription, you can purchase from an LP.
Unlike the products sold in dispensaries, LPs are subject to regulations and inspections by Health Canada. For this reason, purchasing from an LP is a more reliable and safe way to get your medicine.
If you are interested in purchasing medical marijuana legally, you can book an appointment with one of our doctors to find out if you are eligible for a prescription.