NEW MINAS – Kelly Stoddart says being arrested at a marijuana dispensary will not stop her from advocating for medical marijuana patients.
She was arrested Sept. 21 at the Higher Living Wellness Centre marijuana dispensary in Greenwood, where she worked as a "pot tender." She now faces two charges of possession of marijuana for the purpose of trafficking, and was among those demonstrating near the NSLC in New Minas Oct. 17 as people purchased legal pot for the first time.
Stoddart held a sign, stood amongst her fellow demonstrators and took a long pull from a joint on a patch of grass along the parking lot of County Fair Mall, where demonstrators said they gathered not to protest legalization, but rather the crackdown on dispensaries.
“For years, people considered cannabis a gateway drug. But for me, it was my exit drug. But now, I can’t legally access what I need. What am I supposed to do?” said Stoddart.
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Medical marijuana society says medical users ignored
Debbie Stultz-Giffin was also among the group protesting a series of RCMP raids on dispensaries across Nova Scotia as federal legalization of recreational cannabis use became law in Canada.
Stultz-Giffin is the chair of registered non-profit Maritimers Unite for Medical Marijuana, and said she feels medical cannabis users have been ignored during the lead up to legalization.
“I’m not as concerned about what’s going on inside, because, certainly, we do not oppose the legalization of recreational cannabis. What we do oppose is that throughout all of this, patients’ needs have been ignored,” she said.
Stultz-Giffin said she believes the government hasn’t moved to legalize dispensaries “because it speaks of safety concerns regarding cannabis,” but said this is just not the case, since most of the product that had been sold at dispensaries such as Higher Living in Greenwood came from licensed producers, or LPs, themselves.
“The actual truth is if patients are producing the medicine that’s being supplied to dispensaries, you can be guaranteed that they won’t be using pesticides or chemicals that might negatively impact health. That would make the whole argument a moot point,” said Stultz-Giffin.
Doctor shortage affecting access: Stoddart
Stoddart said she worries people who utilized dispensaries to obtain specific forms of cannabis – oils, dried flowers, capsules – will be left out in the cold because the NSLC’s selection of products and employees won’t cover their specific needs.
Stoddart also said that for many Nova Scotians without a doctor – and with her own doctor retiring at the end of this year – many people are not able to obtain a medical license, and are left without access to legal medical marijuana as a result.
“I don’t know what part they see as legal – all the rules that came in with it now, to me it’s more illegal now than it was yesterday,” she said.
Stultz-Giffin said she believes some dispensaries will stay open to “continue serving their patients” despite the recent crackdown on dispensaries throughout Nova Scotia.
“I do see some dispensaries drawing a line in the sand and staying open with the staunch belief that they have the legal right to do so because of various court decisions,” said Stultz-Giffin.