It may be hard to imagine, but there is a marijuana dispensary just a few minutes away from campus.
Nestled in Westdale Village lies a store with a casual spa-like façade. This is Pacifico, and while the words “Mind, Body and Soul” printed on the storefront resonates with a leisure experience, the shop deals almost exclusively in medical marijuana.
Pacifico is positioned conveniently in a high-density of McMaster student residences. Considering the culture of pot dispensaries and the legal issues commonly associated with them, Pacifico attempts to present itself in a strictly clinical fashion, pushing itself away from the illegal, recreational facet of marijuana.
The backstory behind the medicinal marijuana dispensary began with the owner, Tamara Hirsh. After contracting a food illness from eating fish contaminated by the ciguatera neurotoxin, she was afflicted with complete nerve pain. Conventional painkillers were not doing the trick, and it was only until she tried cannabis that her pain was alleviated. Pacifico was founded under a core belief in alternative medicine, particularly helping people looking to choose cannabis as a remedy.
As Hirsh explained in a piece from the Hamilton Spectator, Pacifico operates under tight security surveillance. The outside lobby area is kept clean with an ambience resembling that of a clinic. The marijuana itself is kept locked in an inner room that is stored in a heavy-duty safe when the store is closed.
Considering the culture of pot dispensaries and the legal issues commonly associated with them, Pacifico attempts to present itself in a strictly clinical fashion, pushing itself away from the illegal, recreational facet of marijuana.
Pacifico takes pride in a business model that is stricter than other dispensaries. In order to qualify as a client, patients require a doctor’s note or prescription and must answer an eight-page intake form.
“We require a documented condition, something written by a doctor diagnosing you with insomnia or anxiety,” said Alexis Titian, an educator at Pacifico.
While this documentation is sufficient enough under Pacifico’s terms to sell marijuana to a client, it still remains illegal for the individual.
The store recommends that clients get the legal marijuana license as well.
“We are connected with a clinic called Body Stream and with a doctor referral, they will take you through the process and you will get your legal medicinal marijuana license,” Titian said.
Marijuana exists in a legal grey area. While currently illegal, the CBC has reported that the Liberal government will present legislation next month to legalize marijuana in Canada by July 1, 2018. In early March, police conducted raids on a series of dispensaries owned by Marc and Jodie Emery, also known as the “Prince and Princess of Pot.” One of the Cannabis Culture stores that was raided was located in downtown Hamilton.
According to the report, provinces will have the right to limit how marijuana is distributed and sold as well as the right to set price. For businesses such as Pacifico, the future of their business is in limbo as governments decide how to regulate the industry.