The Medicinal Cannabis Dispensary 10th anniversary interview with Executive Director Dori Dempster

The Medicinal Cannabis Dispensary 10th anniversary interview with Executive Director Dori Dempster

The Medicinal Cannabis Dispensary was Vancouver’s third dispensary ever when it first opened the Hastings place back in October 2008.

Cannabis Life Network talked to Dori Dempster, the Executive Director of The Medicinal Cannabis Dispensary, in a wide-ranging interview about the changes she’s seen during this whirlwind decade of cannabis in Canada.

Dori also looks to the future as she tells us about what she sees as the next big battle for the cannabis community post-legalization, how medicinal cannabis is getting lost in all the legalization hype, and the major flaws in the government’s cannabis distribution plan.

How do you feel about reaching this milestone?

I heard that you’re planning something on the Labour Day weekend to celebrate. Could you tell me a bit?

We have an annual picnic which has grown through the years into a party at Strathcona Park at the corner of Prior and Raymur.

Lunch is on us at this family-oriented celebration, and we’re also earning a great big load of corn from the valley. We get it made hot and toasty and shuck the corn there, and then we spread some cannabis butter – we call it “Really Baked Corn”.

We eat that with our burgers and other goodies and we just distribute the blankets and have a picnic for our associates and our very hardworking staff for a day-off before college and work starts up again.

This year, in particular, we’re putting out a special welcome to anybody that feels that they ’ve worked towards ending Prohibition and finish the stigma because legalization is right around the corner.

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That sounds awesome. Cannabis butter is put by you on the corn?

Yes, a crowd favorite. We always have a kiddie corn variant t want to partake in the “rdquo & Really Baked Corn;.

When you opened 10 years back, did you ever think we’d get to this point?

A decade back I was hoping that I might see legalization in my life, so sitting here today and seeing how many dispensaries have opened and closed since then (and continue to open what seems like every single day), it’s been a really great 10 years and now there ’s a lot to celebrate until we get back to work.

Whenever the Medicinal Cannabis Dispensary opened on Hastings St. in 2008, we were the third dispensary to open in Vancouver.

When we opened our Thurlow place in 2010, we were town ’s fourth storefront location.

There’s been a lot of change because our dispensaries opened.

medicinal cannabis dispensary tmcd

Aside from legalization, what are some of the biggest changes that you’ve seen in the previous decade?

Some of the biggest changes we’ve noticed are the variety of merchandise available to people.

When we opened our first dispensary, we had a safe about 2 feet square that held all the cannabis and money- there was a little cash box and only 3 kinds of cannabis. Our menu occasionally has more or 30 varieties of cannabis, and that ’s besides edibles, topicals, all of the hashes, capsules, oils, and tinctures – we even have a Pet Division today with products !

In the beginning, we got a great deal of people which were already very knowledgeable about the compassion club system as we were generally dealing with people who already knew how cannabis benefited them.

Now, our patients have shifted. We’re helping people learn how to use cannabis. We’re seeing a great deal of people of all backgrounds coming to us because they’ve heard from their neighbor about how cannabis helped them they’ve seen their grandma getting better after she’d began eating cookies with her friends, and now they want to see for themselves if it can help them feel better.

I’ve also seen a lot more people sharing on Facebook and social media about how epilepsy and seizures in children can be alleviated by cannabis, and so we’re getting a lot more people coming to us because they’re curious about how cannabis can help their kids.

How do you see the cannabis landscape changing in the next 10 years?

I think things will change a good deal because we’re going through an uncertain time where fear has been evoked with people saying, “We need to close the dispensaries right now if we want any chance of getting our dispensary open after legalization”, and that really concerns me because I see a good deal of people who would, all of a sudden, need to begin trying to find a street trader again to obtain their medicine.

Especially if you need something other than dried flower- if “your man ” doesn’t understand how to make it, you’re in distress.

I believe it’s dangerous when we enact laws that force people to begin making their medicine for themselves, especially in regards to concentrates.

It’s best left to the people who understand what they’do as a sick person shouldn’t need to figure it out for themselves!

Will The Medicinal Cannabis Dispensary combine the legal system?

We won’t be closing our doors with the hope that somebody will someday give us a permit to do what we’ve been doing all along these past 10 years. The evidence is in and when Justice Phelan stated “ dispensaries are accessibility for patients’ heart ” and we heard that loud and clear.

The medical profession and Health Canada really want nothing to do with this product and are happy to turn patient needs over to Stock Brokers and Sales Executives.  

We might pursue a place that will fit within the parameters of the recreational licensing system, but our present medicinal dispensaries will stay doing what they do, in the locations that they are, to keep on serving our community.

The fight though is still far from over and there are a whole lot of things happening with legalization which are kind of debatable.

I believe that the next major battle is figuring out how to control the edibles market because, under present regulations, they have essentially said that edibles are simply not allowed- unless you learn how to make your own brownies.

We also serve a very large group of people who simply don’t have the skills to make a batch of brownies or can even manage a batch of brownies for that matter.

Lots of our customers are in situations with their housing where they need to line up every night and need to have their bags checked, and they are not permitted to come in with drugs or food, which forces them into situations where they need to buy and consume their medicine daily.

That may make things expensive for people because they can’t get a bargain on things in a larger quantity simply because they can’t afford to buy it or lose that much all at once if it gets confiscated.

So regulation of the edibles marketplace and making those products available to people will be a really major barrier for lawmakers, but as far as the people go, we’ve got it figured out already!

We know what to do with brownies and gummie bears and other edibles- generally, start low and go slow and make sure everybody knows what goods they’re consuming.

You also need to supervise your kids and pets and make certain you maintain your merchandise in a safe place but bear in mind that cannabis is not a dangerous product and you will find a hundred things more dangerous in a home than cannabis will ever be.

Among the other biggest hurdles that I see is in teaching people and sifting through the propaganda and fear that’s going to be fed to everybody in the campaigns brought out by Health Canada and other “worried ” classes.

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The ever-changing menu at the Thurlow location.

How do you feel about the government-run supply of accredited producer-only cannabis?

What I think that will do is push certain people to find a way to do get their cannabis without participate in that system because many people are very skeptical of anything run by the government in general.

Personally, I don’t see the authorities ’s model of taking fresh cannabis plant matter and creating a centralized distribution hub working.

It works for liquor, sure, but that’s because everything’s stable and it’s in a jar.

With cannabis flower, we’re talking about a product that’s drying every moment that it’s in a bag, so there’s constant evaporation and degradation, and even though it’s minimal, should you’re going to state that a product has a certain degree of cannabinoids such as THC or CBD, then you need to be certain it still has those levels in it if it gets to the customer.

From what I understand about the effectiveness tests done on dried cannabis and how decarboxylation happens, it’s an issue of how it’s stored, temperature, time, and the amount of light that can change those outcomes.

The item degrades quite quickly as far as odor and things proceed, but the government is regulating it to come in a package where people won’t even get the chance to find out if it suits the senses!

That is something which a good deal of people will miss about the recreational cannabis experience- being able to smell what you’re purchasing – because often it’s what the nose knows that assists the person determine what their purchase will be.

medicinal cannabis dispensary tmcd

Can you believe medicinal cannabis is getting lost in all the hype surrounding legalization?

They’ll say they can’until they can determine how it & rsquo; s working the bylaws they change t amend the bylaws for any reason – and how do they change it?

They alter the term “marijuana” to “cannabis” and they alter “medical marijuana-related use” to just “cannabis use”!

They struck “medical” right out because they realized they’d set up a system which only served medical patients and they had to cover themselves because recreational is right around the corner- but they harbor ’t left provisions for medical marijuana to be coated in at least one of these stores because everybody is expected to just transition over to the recreational system.

I just read a doctor saying he was pleased that we can “scrap the medical program entirely because it won’t be needed”.

I think our services will become more crucial to our members during this transitional phase because their needs will not being fulfilled in recreational stores.

So under legalization, it looks like medicinal cannabis will be subject to all the very same taxes and markups and fees of recreational cannabis?

They’re expecting medical patients to go to a legal recreational dispensary and they’re saying there’s no need for a medical system anymore because of that.

The prices will surely be higher at recreational outlets due to the additional unnecessary warehousing and distribution expenses.

Sick people are already facing enough hurdles and additional taxes and fees can mean the difference between them being able to consume and medicate or just eat.

Component of our focus will turn to teaching capable or able members the benefits of growing their own plants under the medical program and providing for themselves wherever they can and then encouraging them to simply share their prosperity with people who can’t help themselves.

Our landlord has received an order from the City of Vancouver stating that the city has found a medical marijuana dispensary at our Hastings location, and it was ordered closed within 2 weeks. That deadline was Aug. 3, which of course has passed.

So the Hastings store is open and it’s business as usual here.

Our Thurlow location has been issued a development permit and we’re now working with the architect and the construction department so we can proceed through to the licensing section.

We’ve been going through this licensing process since 2015 at the Thurlow place and we’ve only just gotten the city to issue the development permit today. Since then, COV changed it and now the name of the bylaw & rsquo; s my understanding that the city department in charge of this is on hold until the rules are developed and then they will correct the bylaws again.

Are there anything else you’d like to include?

I just want to remind everybody that on Labour Day Monday from 12pm-6pm at Strathcona Park is our 10th Anniversary Picnic Celebration.

The stores will be closed that day and reopen Tuesday at 10am when we’ll be kicking off a month of specials at the stores.

Thank you to all of our members that made this day a reality. I am honoured and grateful .

medicinal cannabis dispensary tmcd

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