Patterson Criminal Law Blog

Patterson Law’s criminal law blog is a blog commenting upon topics of interest related to Nova Scotia’s criminal justice system. We hope to address common questions, to help you in your search for answers and provide general information about the legal process.

Marijuana Dispensaries in Nova Scotia – Are they legal?

Oct 23

Written by:
10/23/2018 11:58 AM  RssIcon

By Sarah White

Cannabis dispensaries in Nova Scotia, unless they are owned and operated by the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation (NSLC) are illegal – for now.  Most people have no idea, and many people continue to support local dispensaries, despite the government’s opposition to their operation.

But, did you know that the city, and the police, are actively working towards shutting down these clinics, even though many Nova Scotians support these establishments.  The city will prosecute a dispensary for operating without a specific permit, which the city won’t issue, because they are illegal.  Owners have tried, and failed to receive permits.  Fines for operating a dispensary now range from $10,000.00 - $25,000.00 under the new Cannabis Control Act.

The Federal Prosecution Service is also continuing to prosecute people who are working in the dispensaries.  If you are working at a dispensary, you could be charged with drug trafficking, contrary to section 5(2) of the Controlled Drug and Substances Act.  

If you are facing a municipal or criminal prosecution as a result of your involvement with a medicinal cannabis dispensary, you should contact a lawyer for advice who has an understanding of the ongoing issues related to cannabis dispensaries.  There are many people working to change the laws so that medicinal cannabis dispensaries can remain open.

Recreational Cannabis and Medicinal Cannabis

The NSLC Cannabis stores only sell recreational cannabis.  They do not sell medicinal cannabis.  Those who have a valid doctor’s prescription for medicinal cannabis can’t get their prescriptions filled at the NSLC. Ironically, people who want to use cannabis for fun, can purchase it legally at a storefront.  However, there is currently nowhere to purchase medicinal cannabis (legally) in Nova Scotia at a store front location.  This is why so many medicinal cannabis retailers continue to remain open, despite the current state of the law. 

There is a mail order system for those with a prescription is regulated under a set of Federal Regulations called the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPRs).  Patients who need medicinal cannabis have to order it though this mail order system.  There are many issues with this set of regulations and there is ongoing litigation across the country trying to change how patients can access their medicine.  The argument is that storefront dispensaries are at the heart of reasonable access to medicinal cannabis and that medicinal cannabis patients should be able to access their medicine of choice in person.

Patterson Law is currently involved in ongoing Constitutional Litigation in Nova Scotia supporting those who wish to be able to access their medicinal cannabis at a storefront, just like those who are able to purchase recreation cannabis.  If you are interested in learning more, please feel free to contact us.