Medical marijuana dispensary opens its doors

Tasty Budd’s, which opened on Cole Harbour Road Monday, operates in a grey area

Mal Mcmeekin weighs marijuana the marijuana that will be sold to customers
Mal McMeekin weighs marijuana the marijuana that will be sold to customers   Mitchell Mullen

Halifax’s newest medical marijuana dispensary opened its doors to users of medical marijuana on Monday. The dispensary, called Tasty Budd’s, has set up shop on Cole Harbour Road to provide a range of marijuana products for customers with a valid medical marijuana prescription. Different strains of dried marijuana, hash, marijuana edibles such as macaroons and even lollipops are all on the menu.

Mal McMeekin, the owner of Tasty Budd’s, says this dispensary is filling a much-needed niche.

“Here the customers will be able to take (marijuana) out, touch it, feel it and smell it,” said McMeekin.

When a customer comes in to get marijuana from Tasty Budd’s, security is tight.  First there’s a waiting room. It looks like any other waiting room including magazines and a TV. From there, a first-time customer has to register as a member of Tasty Budd’s. Then customers have their medical prescription for marijuana verified and are issued a card with a number. Only after receiving their ID are customers allowed into the display room where they can select their choice of product from behind a counter.

“They have to have a doctor’s prescription,” says McMeekin. “What for? That’s between them and the doctor. We’re only selling to legal medical patients and no one under the age of 21.”

McMeekin says the dispensary gets its marijuana shipped to it directly from licenced distributors. These licences are grandfathered in because they were issued before Canada’s laws regarding the growth and distribution of marijuana were changed in 2013. That was when the Marihuana Access Program was replaced by the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (or MMPR).

Under the new regulations those with a medical marijuana prescription have to register with those legally licenced producers and can only order from them.  While the distributors are free to continue providing marijuana to Tasty Budd’s, the legality of the dispensary itself is less straightforward.

“We’re in a bit of a grey area,” said McMeekin. “We have a contingency plan and if we’re closed down for a day, we’ll be open again the next.”

There are no laws for medical marijuana dispensaries in Nova Scotia and because of that it’s hard to determine whether there will be legal trouble for Tasty Budd’s in the future. Another marijuana dispensary in Halifax, Farm Assists, was subject to police raids, arrests and its owner was charged with drug trafficking.

Despite the possible consequences, McMeekin is optimistic about the dispensary and even said there will be plans to open up more shops if everything goes according to plan.

“We want to be able to serve everybody. So different towns, different places,” says McMeekin.

The first customer at Tasty Budd’s, Jim Hachey, left the dispensary with a smile on his face.

“I’m kind of amazed,” says Hachey. “I get to see my weed before I buy it, which other places don’t. This is the way it should be.”  

McMeekin says, though they are a business, they are looking out for the people who have prescriptions for medical marijuana.

“Clearly there is a need for it,” says McMeekin “It’s a matter of how the community perceives us that’ll decide whether or not we can keep going forward with it.”