Medical Marijuana Dispensary Opens in Vancouver's West End

By Laura Baziuk (Orginally posted in The Province, May 24, 2010)

West Enders who use medical marijuana soon won’t have to go to Commercial Drive to get medicine, with a new dispensary set to open next week.

The Vancouver Dispensary Society announced a new location Monday at Thurlow and Davie streets, next to St. Paul’s Hospital and the Dr. Peters AIDS Centre, to provide cannabis products to those in medical need.

“I think there’s a lot of people in this area who could use this medicine,” said society director Dana Larsen at the dispensary’s open house. “I think it’ll be busy.”

Medical marijuana can be used to help patients with HIV/AIDS, cancer, hepatitis C and multiple sclerosis, and can relieve such symptoms as nausea, lack of appetite, pain and muscle spasms.

Currently, the only place to get it in the Lower Mainland is at one of the four dispensaries in East Vancouver, or at one in Maple Ridge that opened earlier this month.

The West End dispensary will carry about a dozen different strands of pot and hash, as well as tinctures, extracts, capsules, lotions and topical creams, Larsen said. The supply comes from a handful of local growers from Vancouver and around B.C.

West Ender Carlos Ordaz has been using medical marijuana to help stimulate his appetite for four years, and usually goes to Commercial Drive to pick up the medicine.

“This is a good idea. We need it,” Ordaz said at the open house. “It’s going to be used a lot.”

There’s often a wait to be served at the East Van dispensary, Larsen said, so staff on Thurlow plan to separate payment and dispensing to speed service along.

The society has registered about 1,600 members since it launched one of the four East Vancouver dispensaries 1½ years ago, and also sells seeds by mail across the country.

The group oversaw the opening of the Maple Ridge dispensary three weeks ago, and Larsen said they already have more than 50 members signed up there.

He said the society knocked on doors around the neighbourhood, letting people know they’d be setting up shop. “We didn’t get a single negative response from anybody.”

The society hopes to start another location by the end of the year, he said, either in South Vancouver or New Westminster.

But for now, he is preparing to open the doors to help people in the West End.

“I think it’s the perfect space. It’s a community tolerant of diversity.”

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