A privately run organization that helps people determine whether they are eligible to legally grow or buy medical marijuana has chosen Abbotsford to set up its first office.
The Greenleaf Medical Clinic – located at 2296 McCallum Rd. – obtained its business licence from the city about a month ago, and announced its officially opening on Thursday.
Chad Clelland, director of online and community relations, said the clinic does not dispense marijuana nor is it a “compassion club” for users of the product.
Instead, it provides guidance and information for people who want to qualify to obtain Health Canada authorization to purchase marijuana through the national agency, grow it themselves, or have a designated grower.
Clients consult with the clinic’s doctor either online or in person, by appointment, at the clinic. She reviews their medical history and symptoms to ensure they meet the requirements set out by Health Canada.
“This is for seriously ill people across the country,” Clelland said.
He said most people using the service – which previously operated solely over the Internet, starting in 2001 – are already using marijuana illegally, often through a compassion club.
“They’ve tried other medications … but they don’t like the side effects.”
He said they turn to the clinic because they are not comfortable with using pot illegally, but they are intimidated by Health Canada’s “daunting” process, which includes a 33-page application that must be filed with no errors.
Clelland said he was initially leery about setting up a clinic in Abbotsford, given its conservative reputation. The clinic shares a building with Fraser Health and other tenants, and they expressed some concern at first.
“As soon as they found out we’re not dispensing marijuana and we’re not a compassion club, we’ve had a very warm welcome,” he said. “We’re completely, 100 per cent above board.”
Clelland said anyone wanting support should first go online to medicalmarijuana.ca and fill out the patient application. They can also email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The clinic will be closed from Dec. 23 to Jan. 3, but online support will be available during that period.