A new medical marijuana clinic will open its doors in Halifax later this summer, with its director hoping to offer an alternative to opioids and other pharmaceuticals.

“We want to be able to provide a really sound and thorough method so people will understand that there are very significant alternatives that they need to look at,” says Kenny Lord, director of National Access Cannabis’ Atlantic region.

Overdoses drop: study

Between 2007 and 2010, almost 300 people died from prescription drug overdoses in Nova Scotia, 77 per cent more deaths than those due to illicit drugs in the same time period, according to the Canadian Journal of Addiction Medicine.

The Nova Scotia College of Physicians and Surgeons recently recommended doctors cut in half the frequency of prescribed opioids for chronic pain, and to stop considering opioids as a first method of treatment for chronic pain.

That could leave space for alternatives, such as cannabis, to surface, Lord said.

Prescriptions written on-site

National Access Cannabis is a chain of “information clinics” with locations in Ottawa and Vancouver, and up to 40 more to come, Lord said. The location in Halifax will be on Spring Garden Road.

It also will have doctors on-site to give prescriptions to eligible patients, and staff will help people navigate the medical cannabis system.

The clinic itself is still under construction, but if the Ottawa and Vancouver locations are any indication, it will look different than other dispensaries or head shops in town.

Not only for ‘underachievers’

It will have stark white walls, modern furniture, and a shiny glass display case full of state-of-the-art vaporizers, a look carefully crafted.

“I used to think that you could identify a cannabis user because he was the person walking around with his head in the clouds, or the underachievers,” Lord said.

“Cannabis is coming to a light where it should have been a long time ago.”

Fees could be ‘extremely cost prohibitive’

While the chain prides itself on spreading knowledge about cannabis, its advice isn’t free. The clinic’s services cost anywhere from $100 to $250, plus a $50 annual membership fee.

That could be a barrier for the people that would benefit most, according to Debbie Stultz-Giffin, founder of Maritimers Unite for Medical Marijuana.

“It makes it difficult for patients who live on low fixed income. If there are additional fees attached to how they’re going to access that medicine, then it certainly becomes extremely cost-prohibitive,” she said.

No pot at the clinic

The clinic won’t be keeping cannabis on location. Under current laws, it must be mailed to patients through Health Canada.

That could change in the coming months. The company is lobbying Health Canada in hopes of becoming a go-to vendor for the distribution of medical cannabis, Lord said.

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Full Article: New Halifax Cannabis Clinic Hopes To Be Alternative To Opioids
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