News / Halifax

New medical marijuana dispensary serving up Tasty Buds in Cole Harbour

Mal McMeekin owner of Tasty Buds measures out some marijuana in Cole Harbour on Monday.

Jeff Harper/Metro

Mal McMeekin owner of Tasty Buds measures out some marijuana in Cole Harbour on Monday.

At the municipality’s newest medical marijuana dispensary, a mixture of Nova Scotia-themed and marijuana-themed art hangs on the walls, and the faint smell of fresh cannabis fills the air.

Patients sit in a waiting room that looks a lot like the one at the dentist’s office. When it’s their turn, they go to the back of the dispensary, and pick from a selection of different strains of dried marijuana, hash, and edibles like marijuana-infused peanut butter cups and suckers.

Tasty Buds on Cole Harbour Road opened its doors Monday morning, and business was immediately steady.

“I just thought there was a need for it, and the current system we have now just isn’t providing what patients need,” said owner Mal McMeekin on Monday.

Before the system changed in 2014, patients had choices: they could grow their own marijuana, have a licensed producer grow it for them, or buy it from Health Canada for $5 a gram.

Now, patients have to buy their marijuana from licensed corporations, typically by mail order.

McMeekin likens that to buying a t-shirt online: it might not fit, but if you go to a store, you can try it on, and you know what you’re getting.

“It’s a tangible item: you can see it, you can touch it, you can smell it, you can see if it’s what you actually want and if it’s gonna help you out properly,” he said.

McMeekin’s product is grown by someone who had a license before the rules changed, and was grandfathered in.

But while the marijuana is grown legally, that doesn’t quite make McMeekin’s operation legal.

“We’re in a grey area,” he said.

“We feel that we’re filling a void, and we’re really helping people out, and if consequences come our way, then they do.”

For Farm Assists -- a dispensary on Gottingen Street -- those consequences have been a couple of raids and arrests for the owners.

McMeekin thinks his shop is a little different. Tasty Buds, he said, is more like a pharmacy, while at Farm Assists, patients also use their medication. At Tasty Buds, you come in, get your medicine, and use it at home.

In the absence of any guidelines for Halifax, McMeekin is following a set implemented in Vancouver. That means strict security, and he’ll only be selling to people with licenses, and not to minors.

“We’re hoping that the community stands behind us, and everyone else is with us that we’re doing the right thing here.”

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