In the past few years, medicinal Marijuana dispensaries have been popping up all over Vancouver. This change has effectively de-stigmatized the use of marijuana to treat a variety of ailments, from anxiety to pain relief; with this there’s also been an influx of new strains, products and methods of ingesting marijuana through smoke, vapour, oil and edibles. Blueprint spoke with some of the top dispensaries in the city to see what they have to offer, and where they sit within the city’s Cannabis culture.
One of the most popular dispensaries for lovers of hip-hop, REDMED CannaClinic is uniquely situated in the crossover between the Cannabis industry and the music industry. Artists like Drake, Raekwon and Kardinal Offishall have all come through the dispensary and had strains named after them, and even co-owner and Rascalz rapper Red1 has his own RED1-OG strain. Red reveals why the artist connection, among other factors, makes RedMed just a little different than other dispensaries.
It’s very welcoming, very open. It’s customer-friendly and a really cool, unique environment. It’s all in the open, like you’re going to a pharmacy to buy your meds -no back rooms that might keep it in the realm of something sketchy. People feel more comfortable when it’s just a natural process.
Unique products and strains:
We carry edibles that are gluten-free, and we carry some of the greatest products out there as far as how it smokes, how it burns. I think we have a better variety that most places, 25-40 strains at a time. A lot of places focus of their Kushes and Indicas but we have a lot of other strains, a lot of Sativas. A benefit of being in the music industry and being connected to a bunch of artists is that they come into the city they’re definitely asking where’s REDMED. Every artist that we do name a strain after, we get a certificate, get them to sign it and make it official.
Marijuana and Vancouver:
I think it plays an important big role for the simple fact that 75-80 percent of the people smoke it or have tried it. Vancouver is really at the forefront of the Cannabis industry – from research to product to your average individual’s knowledge on it. We’re almost Cannabis snobs because everyone is such a connoisseur. Other cities smoke weed with seeds and sticks but you can’t give that stuff away for free here. We’re just really at the leading curve of what’s going on the in the industry.
A lot of people come in with the similar ailments – could be anxiety, sleep deprivation, appetite problems and they don’t get hungry until they smoke, or pain from certain illnesses. We try to keep a very knowledgeable staff and we even offer fitness training and yoga from instructors that work with us.
I come from a music background, and I saw an opportunity to use my talents in that field to make our spot a little more unique .We have a lot of artists coming through, we sponsor and throw concerts, we have artists working for us – marijuana also helps the creative side, and a lot of creative people use it so it’s been an easy way of combining worlds in a more synchronized fashion in getting the message out there. Providing entertainment and also information about what we’re doing and the benefits of Cannabis.
Sunrise Wellness Foundation is an owner-operated medicinal Marijuana dispensary and wellness centre that offers its clients unique strains, professional staff and a deep understanding of the holistic nature of healing.
We have worked hard to make our dispensary as professional and welcoming as possible while exceeding the standard for exceptional patient care. Our bright reception area is bathed in natural sunlight with a fresh natural scent to the air from the variety of houseplants and flowers. We are an owner-operated dispensary and our employees have extensive experience in many facets of the medical marijuana industry. Our passion shines through in our in-depth understanding and knowledge of the products that we have on offer and the customer service that we provide.
Unique products and strains:
We pride ourselves on our exotic strain selection and have traveled the province fostering great relationships with all our growers. This has given us more input on quality standards and responsible growing practices which allows us to ensure that our products are always up to the highest standards.
Our commitment to excellence has opened doors to influential and well-respected members of the industry. We were lucky enough to get in touch with Horatio Delbert Concentrates (HDC), recent winner of Connoisseurs’ Choice at the Pacific Northwest Secret Cup. At the moment we are the only dispensary in town stocking HDC Limonene Hash Oil (LHO). Limonene is a terpene found in everything from citrus fruits to cannabis buds, it’s one of several other terpenes that make up the smell and flavour of oranges. HDC steam distills orange rinds to extract limonene, a food-grade organic solvent, capable of making cannabis concentrates without the use of petrochemicals (butane, hexane, methane, isopropynol).
Several of our strains have also been bred by our growers such as our very popular Purple God. The result of decades of growing experience and a perfectly tuned aeroponic system, a cross between a very heady, trichome-encrusted phenotype of God Bud and a stinky, sedative Purple Kush. This stuff belongs in magazines. Couple of our other strains are closely guarded exotics such as the Red Congolese and Watermelon.
Vancouver and Marijuana:
Vancouver has always seemed to be proud of their liberal approach. Their outlook on cannabis symbolizes our freedom here in Vancouver and to some extent Canada. City Council has been pretty clear, reasonable and supportive in their acceptance of the medicinal program – one which is very unique to Vancouver.
Our members use medicinal cannabis for a variety of reasons ranging from symptoms and side effects of chemotherapy, chronic pain, keratomycosis, anxiety and sleep disorders. Cannabis and the many concentrated forms available offer relief in numerous ways. High CBD levels in certain strains have demonstrated benefits in treating epilepsy, cancer, pain, arthritis, anxiety disorders and many more.
We offer a compassionate care program for MMAR, Veterans, Low Income and seriously ill and disabled patients. Our close proximity to the Vancouver General Hospital and BC Cancer Agency brings many of their patients to our dispensary where we can offer personalized patient services and information packages that can help them better understand how medicinal marijuana can benefit them. We have a few more future plans but we’re keeping quiet on those until all the details are finalized.
The BC Compassion Club is the longest-running dispensary in North America, and had been providing wellness services and medicinal marijuana to those in need since 1997. Jamie Shaw, President of the Canadian Association of Medical Cannabis Dispensaries and communications director for the BC Compassion Club Society, explains the philosophy of the non-profit society’s service to the community.
We hope we create a calm, healing atmosphere here. A lot of our members are marginalized either due to their cannabis use, the conditions they suffer from, or other reasons, so we try to make sure our space is friendly, welcoming, warm and inclusive.
Unique products and strains:
We work with growers under exclusive contract, so our strains are very consistent. This also allows growers to develop new strains with patient feedback, to specifically meet different needs. We were one of the first to offer tinctures and ointments, but what makes us most unique is our wellness centre. We offer ten different modalities of treatment from counseling to acupuncture to massage, that we subsidize, as well as one of Western Canada’s largest apothecaries. We also have a more personal approach than most dispensaries, and each purchase doubles as a private consultation.
Marijuana and Vancouver:
Vancouver has a long history with cannabis, so it plays many roles. It was respected herb by the earliest Asian communities here, and prescribed in tincture form by doctors until the 1920’s. In the ’50’s it was being used recreationally, and while that happened many other places, Cheech and Chong met here in Vancouver. Starting in the 1990’s, it began to fill the role of medicine, and now serves many medical needs as well as being a harm reduction tool, which the City of Vancouver has recognized in their drug policies.
Too numerous to list completely, but pain relief, sleep, appetite, anxiety relief, and anti-inflammatory properties, muscle spasm reduction and cutting back on pharmaceuticals are probably most often cited from our human members, while our animal members usually use it for pain relief and arthritis.
We’ve been involved with groups like the BC Cancer Agency, the Canadian Aids Society, and UBC. We also attend many local events such as Carnegie Centre’s Alley Health Fair, and have presented to groups as diverse as the Vancouver School Board and the Canadian Senate.
– Amalia Nickel