The owner of a new medical marijuana dispensary in Ottawa says he will stop selling to clients who are not medically certified.
About a week ago, Ryan Levis opened the dispensary out of the Greater Ottawa Health Advocacy Centre, which is on Somerset Street West in Ottawa's Chinatown neighbourhood.
He said he is federally licensed to sell the marijuana and clients are supposed to show their medical certification when they buy.
Levis does sell to medically certified clients, though he admitted to being a little relaxed on the rules on Wednesday.
Then on Thursday, though, he changed his tune and told CBC News he would start only selling to certified clients.
"We don't discriminate between illnesses — one is not different from the other. They're all the same. As long as they're enduring illnesses we'll validate them," said Levis, who claims he has sold to about 150 people since opening.
Health Canada states medical marijuana is for the treatment of pain from epilepsy or Multiple Sclerosis.
But the federal government department recently changed its rules around the drug, shifting the onus from federal regulators to doctors and nurse practitioners. They have to write "medical documents" similar to prescriptions authorizing patients to obtain marijuana from a federally licensed provider.
Users also can't grow the drug on their own, according to the new regulations.
1st owner cut ties with Ottawa store
One customer said he smokes a couple of joints a day because it is the only way to fight extreme pain from a spinal injury.
He does not have government approval, though he enjoys buying from a licensed store instead of on the street.
"I'm very happy I'm going somewhere safe, as opposed to going to someone on the street or someone unreliable selling me God knows what," said the 22-year-old, who would not reveal his name in fear his employer would learn of his marijuana use.
This man will now no longer be one of customers if Levis holds to his word.
Ottawa police say anyone buying or selling medical marijuana without government certification is committing a criminal offence.
The Ottawa shop was opened as an expansion to a dispensary in Victoria, B.C., which has existed since November. But recently, that owner cut ties with Levis and the Ottawa man is now the store's sole owner.