The benefits of marijuana dispensaries
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Their role in the legalization process

By Cazzy Lewchuk, Opinions Editor
Marijuana is now a bigger business than ever before. As many US states and Canada prepare for full legalization, the industry has become a billion-dollar enterprise. Gone are the days when one had to buy weed from a sketchy dude on a street corner. In many areas, marijuana dispensaries are becoming more and more common, particularly in certain parts of Vancouver.

If you are someone who uses or is considering using marijuana for whatever purpose, dispensaries are extremely beneficial. In addition to carrying many different strains, many of the dispensaries offer marijuana in some form you may not otherwise have access to, or even have heard of. Lots of dispensaries sell edibles, oils, pills, creams, and even bath bombs containing THC (the active ingredient that makes a user “high”). For those who don’t like getting high and only use marijuana medicinally, some of the products contain little or no THC and only CBD, an ingredient that does not intoxicate the user or give other side effects.

Whether one has never tried weed before or has tried just about every variation, dispensaries offer great advice, products, and knowledge of what exactly it is you’re putting in your body. Most staff are also knowledgeable about the products (just like any specialty store) and can help with one’s specific treatment. Some people use marijuana for cancer treatment, and some simply to giggle and watch cartoons. Dispensaries can offer the right product for both.

The fentanyl crisis is a serious problem, particularly in Vancouver. Warnings of fentanyl in marijuana have been put out by police and government, but there is no actual evidence of the drug making its way into pot. However, marijuana from sketchy sources can be laced with all sorts of things (even if less fatal than fentanyl) and knowing the source for any drug is very important. Most dispensaries will only sell products bought directly from the grower. They also test all of their products, and take safety seriously. It’s not just the knowledge that the weed isn’t laced with fentanyl (or any other drug), it’s detailed knowledge of what a user is putting into their body. Many places offer not just strain names, but also knowledge of the specific effects on the user, and THC/CBD percentages.

Vancouver has over 100 dispensaries, with many operating illegally without a licence. While the city has upped enforcement, and handed out tickets frequently in the last year, many question the value in coming down on products that will soon be legal across Canada. I believe accessibility to cannabis in all of its forms is important, and that dispensaries are subject to much greater restrictions than other businesses (such as a much higher licencing fee). As Canada moves towards legalization, it is my hope that dispensaries will continue to flourish across the country. Dispensaries are essential for public safety and as a model for how drug legalization works when put into practice.