It will be business as usual at the Compass Cannabis Clinic in Red Deer, even after recreational cannabis is legalized Wednesday.
Dave Martyn, Compass Cannabis president, said legalization isn’t going to affect the medicinal cannabis clinic in Red Deer, nor its patient base.
“As of today, we’re not converting that location to retail. What’s interesting for us is we’ve seen a surge in medical patients,” said Martyn. “We’re as busy on the medical patient side as we’ve ever been.”
The clinic opened in Red Deer in November 2017 – almost a year ago.
So far, the local clinic has proven to be the busiest Compass branch in Canada, Martyn said.
“It’s very, very busy. Red Deer is a very accepting market.”
Compass Cannabis has various locations in Alberta: Calgary, Canmore, Sherwood Park and Edmonton. In B.C., it has three locations in Lake Country, Kelowna and Fernie.
The company website states there are more clinics coming to Pentincton, B.C., and others in Medicine Hat, Drayton Valley, Grande Praire, Cochrane and Whitecourt in Alberta.
Martyn believes there will be a percentage of people who would lean towards recreational cannabis once it’s legal, but that’s not going to have an impact on Compass Clinic’s patient base.
“We’re seeing an age range change – we’re finding it’s becoming an older demographic,” he said.
Medical cannabis users are also leaning toward their insurance plans and health spending accounts. Martyn said more and more patients are accessing their insurance plans that cover cannabis or health spending accounts, which will also set recreational and medical cannabis users apart.
Another factor that keeps the clinic in business is the line up of products, such as cannabis infused topical ointments. Martyn said medical cannabis clinics have a wider variety of products to choose from.
“The amount of products you can buy as a recreational consumer in Canada is relatively limited,” he said.
Martyn disagrees with phasing out medical cannabis once recreational cannabis is legal – something the federal government has committed to review in the next five years.
“While the CMA recognizes that some individuals suffering from terminal illness or chronic disease may obtain relief with cannabis, the CMA remains concerned about the lack of clinical research, guidance and regulatory oversight for cannabis as a potential medical intervention.”
Referring to clinic’s patient success stories, Martyn said cannabis is helpful with pain relief and anxiety, especially for those over the age of 65.
“The alternative to pain relief is opioid. Cannabis is non-addictive, highly effective that has generally allowed them (patients) to remove a large amount of opioid from their medical consumption.”