The owner of a medical marijuana compassionate club launched in Oceanside this week claims he is providing a much-needed service to the community.
Bob Estes, a medical marijuana user, opened The Organic Matters Compassionate Access Centre in Errington on Tuesday.
The Fair Road store sells a variety of organic pot, at $7 per gram, to licensed medical marijuana users.
It also offers cannabis cookies, chocolate, tincture (a cannabis-infused alcoholic drink) and cannabis compresses. Cannabis creams and salves are on the way.
Activites that go on at some cannabis compassion clubs are illegal but authorities have turned a blind eye to similar clubs in the past. Some advocates say this happens in part because medical marijuana use is legal. Oceanside RCMP officials were not available for comment yesterday but Estes said he has yet to be visited by local police officers.
Estes says the need for access to organic marijuana is there, especially with the compromised immune systems of sick people. He buys his pot from a network of organic-growers and said several sales have been made already. Health Canada grows one type of cannabis for registered medical marijuana users but its program has been plagued with problems from the start, including reports of contamination and low potency.
Estes says he will not sell marijuana to anyone who is not licensed with Health Canada.
Estes, a married father of two young children, at one time used to home-deliver from a service run out of his house but says he is less nervous about his public store.
He says he will continue to operate even if police shut him down.
“(Medical marijuana use) is not something that should be shady. I feel the community has asked me to be here,” said Estes on Friday. “I’m not trying to hide anything. I don’t believe that at this point in humankind, that I’m going to go to jail for this.”
Organic Matters Compassionate Access Centre is open Tuesday to Saturday from noon until 6 p.m.
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Medical marijuana service returns
by Auren Ruvinsky
A medical marijuana compassion club was shut down in Oceanside a few years ago but Bob Estes believes the area is ready for the service now.
It is legal for people with a Health Canada license or doctor’s note to use medical marijuana in Canada, but it is not technically legal for people to buy or sell it.
There are only three legal ways for people to get the medical help they are legally allowed to have — grow their own, have someone grow it for them or buy it from Health Canada.
Estes pulled out a small vacuum pack of the Health Canada product, which he called “toxic waste” full of chemicals and mold. He also said the fact they only have one type is unhelpful to users who often need to try many varieties to find the one that works for them.
He opened the Organic Matter Compassionate Access Centre in Errington on Tuesday to give people access to a variety of quality, organic medical marijuana.
He pointed out not everyone that needs it knows how, or is physically able to grow marijuana, and they may not know any qualified growers.
“Compassion clubs are a real necessity if we’re going to allow people to get the medication they need,” he said, adding medical marijuana is used by people suffering with a wide range of pain and illnesses.
“Pretty much anything you can take pharmaceuticals for,” he said, chuckling that he hopes the big pharmaceutical companies don’t come after him for saying that.
Estes stressed all the products they sell including pot, cookies, chocolate and tinctures, are 100 per cent organic from a network of contracted organic growers he has developed.
“I went that way because when the human immune system is already compromised, they shouldn’t be putting more toxins into their body.”
He said he sells it at about the same price as street level because he wants it to be available to those who need it and to help guard against people getting a hold of his product and re-selling it on the street.
Estes, who has “self-medicated” with marijuana since he was run over as a teenager, and has been licensed by Health Canada for six years, said, “it is the only way for a lot of people to alleviate the pain. It’s not a matter of choice, its a matter of, do I want to survive and function in daily life.”
Estes is on the B.C. business registry, the only thing required to run a business in the Regional District of Nanaimo, and he is optimistic about his relationship with police.
“The RCMP in Nanaimo and Alberni are fully aware of me,” he said explaining they threatened to bust him in the past for his home delivery service, but he said he hasn’t been busted since he was 15 and was first trying it as a medicine after standard pain medications weren’t helping.
“The Island is really ready for this,” he said, adding there are a couple long-time clubs in Victoria and maybe a couple others on the rest of the Island but he believes the numbers will increase in the next few years.
“I perpetually hear about the need from the community, there are so many people who need it,” he said, adding nobody knows for sure how many medical marijuana users there are, but his best guess is that he might end up with 1,000 members from the mid-Island.
He said he has had a lot of support in opening the new business and “not one person has said anything negative,” though it did take him a while to find a location that would allow him to conduct the business.
Though there are no legal or Health Canada guidelines on how to operate a medical marijuana business, Estes is following the example of long-running clubs with protocols such as not allowing smoking on the premises, hoping that will avoid causing complaints — which is the most common way clubs get busted.
He will only sell to people with Health Canada licenses or people who fill out the forms to join the club, including a doctor’s statement portion.
The paperwork can be filled out by a variety of health care workers including doctors, naturopaths and chiropractors, though Estes encourages people to go through Health Canada to get the actual picture ID — the most formal permission people can get to possess the substance.
Asked about the Mid-Island Compassion Club which operated in Coombs for about five years and was shut down by the RCMP, Estes said “compassion clubs are a lot more legal these days than they where back then.”
He said clubs across the country have proven over and over in court that medical marijuana is legal.
“I’m just doing what Health Canada is failing to do.”
The Organic Matters Centre is at #4 – 1260 Fair Road, Errington, open noon to 6 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday. Call 250-586-0420 for more information.
– Article from BCLocalNews.