Medical pot in Hammond

Physician's form required, adults only, for new shop on Maple Crescent

Brett Steeves runs the Hammond Compassionate Society

Brett Steeves runs the Hammond Compassionate Society

Maple Ridge has a second medical marijuana dispensary.

The Hammond Compassion Society store has opened on Maple Crescent, across from Hammond cedar mill.

“We are a non-profit organization,” said Brett Steeves, who’s running the store.

In order to access any medical marijuana, a person must be over 19, be a member of the compassionate society and have a doctor’s statement confirming their diagnosis.

“The community, as a whole, has embraced the idea. They’re very positive,” Steeves said.

About 20 types of dried marijuana are available, but no edible marijuana products. That’s because there are no federal standards setting packaging, labelling or THC levels.

“The reason we opened this, is we need a wheelchair-accessible facility.”

Steeves said 29 per cent of the client base for medical marijuana is physically challenged. The store’s only been open two weeks and there are already 65 members.

“Of the 65 people who signed up, 15 are cancer patients,” said Steeves.

With The Always Growing Green store in downtown Maple Ridge and the Hammond Compassion Society in west Maple Ridge, there is now one on both sides of the city, he pointed out.

The Always Growing Green Society started in December 2009.

“We’re here to serve the community. The response has been great.”

Having the store located on Maple Crescent can also be part of the revitalization of the area.

“We want to be good community and corporate neighbours,” said Steeves.

Hammond resident Eric Phillips said he hasn’t heard a lot of opposition to the store.

“I guess it’s inevitable to have them. It’s not my idea of establishing a commercial centre of Hammond.”

The city is currently working on an area plan for Hammond that will try to preserve its heritage while allowing growth.

According to the membership guidelines of the society, prospective members must get a confirmation of medical diagnosis through a practitioner’s statement. However, not all doctors are willing to do that. The society says people must find their own doctors willing to do that.

People who suffer from depression, ADHD, AIDS, epilepsy, anxiety, Parkinson’s disease or head injuries, to name just part of the list, need only a confirmation of a diagnosis.

The society also points out that while cannabis can help some mental health conditions, it also could be “deleterious” to some with mental health conditions. Those with severe conditions are monitored to ensure it’s of benefit, it says.

Members have to follow a code of conduct and agree not to resell the marijuana, while there’s also an educational introduction for new members.

Coun. Craig Speirs said the compassion club model should be followed across Canada because it provides a regulated way for people to access medicinal marijuana as well as provide first-hand advice for those seeking the product.

He wants council to discuss the issue and says Maple Ridge likely could limit the number of compassion clubs through zoning restrictions. But there is no city bylaw category for a compassionate club, he added.

The federal government’s Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations intends for people to buy their medicinal marijuana from large producers by mail.