Grande Prairie will still have a medical marijuana clinic even after the drug is legalized. While Leaf Wise plans to open a recreational shop in its current location downtown, its medical business will continue to run in a new building.
Leaf Wise has been running in the city since the beginning of 2017 and serves more than 3,500 patients in the region. Chief Operations Officer Andrew Boone says there’s a distinct difference between what the clinic offers and what people will be able to get from pot shops.
“On the recreational side, there’s going to be no education allowed in the stores. The AGLC has put mandates down that they’re strictly able to provide the customer with the knowledge of what the licensed producer is saying about the product but we can’t actually educate on it.”
Patients of Leaf Wise first meet with a physician to see if medical cannabis is the right treatment option for them, and then prescriptions are filled by an authorized Health Canada licensed producer through the mail. Clients are given treatment plans that are then followed up on.
Boone acknowledges the clinic will likely lose some of its patients to recreational stores, simply because of the convenience of being able to buy the product on the spot. However, he expects many to stick around because of Leaf Wise’s medical experience.
“The impact of the medical use is really having a treatment team reviewing the condition that you have and making sure that the product that you’re getting is right. In the retail store there’s no education allowed, so patients are sort of self-discovering their own condition and what would work best for them.”
Leaf Wise was the first prospective cannabis retailer drawn in the city’s business licence lottery when a cap was still in place. Boone is still waiting for a licence from Alberta Gaming Liquor and Cannabis before moving the clinic to its new location.
The hope is to move to the undisclosed spot by the end of 2018 and to open the recreational store in its old space at 102 Avenue and 100 Street in early 2019. Boone says Leaf Wise has been waiting for AGLC approval for more than three months.
“Our full intention was to be ready to go but unfortunately due to the application volume, they’re a little bit bottlenecked right now. My goal is to be done and ready to go by the end of this year but that may be a little optimistic.”
Until then, it will be business as usual for the clinic and its patients. No cannabis retail stores in Grande Prairie have been given licences to open on October 17th, but as of October 10th, AGLC said there had been 18 applications made.