Researchers urge BC to stick with ‘proven’ marijuana dispensaries

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Let the private sector play a role in selling marijuana in British Columbia.

That’s the advice of two researchers at a leading Canadian university. They are cautioning politicians in B.C. against upending the province’s longstanding dispensary system, saying there are aspects of the existing storefront model that the government could adapt to its legal framework for both medical and recreational marijuana.

Associate professor Zach Walsh and Ph.D candidate Rielle Capler of the University of British Columbia say store-front dispensaries – though illegal in Canada – provide a “proven, valuable” service.

They added that customers prefer the independent storefront model over certain alternatives.

Walsh and Capler asked more than 440 patients to compare different methods of purchasing medical marijuana on a number of factors, such as quality of product, safety, availability, efficiency and feeling respected.

The study was published in the International Journal of Drug Policy.

Independent cannabis businesses have thrived for decades in B.C. up and down the supply chain in a massive gray market. Vancouver and Victoria even sanction a small number of legal MMJ dispensaries.

The province’s top politician seems to be on board to letting the private sector play a role in the retail sector. Premier John Horgan said British Columbia’s thriving marijuana dispensaries could have a role to play when recreational use is rolled out next summer.

By contrast, OntarioQuebec and New Brunswick could use state-run corporations to sell adult-use cannabis. Alberta is still weighing a public versus a private retail system.

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