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The BC Compassion Club Society—Canada’s largest compassion club, located in Vancouver—opened its doors in 1997. At that time, there was no government-sanctioned program to provide medical marijuana in Canada.
2008: The Federal Court of Appeal upheld a decision by a Federal Court judge in BC, who ruled that the regulation that said a designated medical marijuana producer could only grow for one approved user was unconstitutional because it created a barrier to access. Health Canada was given one year to fix the regulation.5 In April 2009, the Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear an appeal that loosening federal restrictions would promote deregulation.6 In May 2009, Health Canada introduced a new regulation: producers could grow for two users. Medical marijuana advocates called the new legislation “a slap in the face” and said it ran contrary to the court ruling.
When Louis* was diagnosed with cancer in 2005, he immediately applied for membership in the BC Compassion Club Society (BCCCS). Louis is also a licensed user through Health Canada’s Medicinal Marihuana Medical Access Division.
Medicinal Marijuana in the Courts
“This last chemotherapy course devastated the nerve endings in my hands and my feet, and I now suffer from peripheral neuropathy,” he added. “Associated with peripheral neuropathy are throbbing pains in my feet that come by for a visit each evening, usually in bed. My neurologist concedes that there are therapeutic properties in marijuana and encourages me to use it .”
Compassion clubs came to Canada in the late 1990s, based on similar medicinal marijuana clubs in the United States. The goal of compassion clubs is to provide safe access to medicinal, or medical, marijuana when there is no government-sanctioned program, or when such a program is not effectively meeting the need. About 12 major clubs currently provide medicinal marijuana to an estimated 10,000 people across Canada. 2
According to Leung, the BC Compassion Club also has “a lot more resources on hand for people to access—just in knowledge and expertise.” The people who dispense the cannabis are able to assist clients in picking a strain that will best help their symptoms. Members browse the dispensary “menu” while they sit in the plant-filled waiting room, before being called upon to receive their medicine. Cannabis is dispensed and paid for in privacy, behind a curtain or bamboo divider.
The Health Canada Marihuana Medical Access Regulations (MMAR) 3 was enacted in 2001. Now people can apply for federal government approval to use marijuana for medical purposes. However, the Health Canada eligibility requirements are very restricted and the application process is lengthy. There are currently only around 2,800 people licensed by Health Canada to access medical marijuana, 4 out of an estimated 600,000 Canadians that use marijuana for medical purposes. 5 Currently, the BCCCS has around 5,000 members. 6
Becoming a member is easy. All it takes is uploading a picture of your government issued photo ID to confirm your age is over 19. Once that’s posted you simply wait for confirmation. In the time spent waiting the customer is asked to fill out information like home address, name, and username for the site. It’s easy and takes about 10 minutes from start to finish.
The Shelter Market wants all of its members to be informed about their products and the use of cannabis overall. They breakdown the plant, the differences between indica, sativa, and hybrids, cannabis cultivation, health benefits, products suggestions, a dosing guide, the effects on younger patients, and information on CBD just to name a few. Each product comes with a description, but the site itself doesn’t have much when it comes to customer reviews. Despite the lack of customer reviews, the site makes up for it with an extensive information page. Plenty of information is offered throughout the site. It might not have the customer-to-customer interaction some sites offer, but it makes up for it with information on each product. It also boasts an extensive collection of information on products and cannabis as a whole.
A rundown of the various products offered showed a potential customer everything they need to know about the site. Dried cannabis, pre-rolls, vaporizers, CBD products, capsules, concentrates, edibles, products for pets, suppositories, tinctures, topicals, and even seeds are available for purchase. All products are described and priced according to quality. There’s a chance to find ounces for just $100, but there is a disclaimer some of the buds might have seeds. It might not seem like much, but that type of honesty in their products is what separates ShelterMarket.ca apart from other online retailers. Once a customer decides to check out a product a little deeper the real magic begins. Shelter Market lets the customer zoom in on products for closer looks. Most products have multiple pictures and descriptions included with them. They even give matching products that may give the customer more options when it comes to purchase.
The Shelter Market Loyalty Programs
All orders are made through Canada Post, which ensures products arrive safely and quickly. ShelterMarket.ca takes a lot of pride in giving members a quick and easy way to place orders. The last thing they want is any customer to worry over their order getting to its destination. Ordering is easy and shipping is quick and discreet.
The Shelter Market offers a refer a friend incentive that will give members a $25 off coupon for each new customer they refer. Only one coupon can be redeemed per order, but you can refer to as many friends as you want to keep receiving discounts. Keep in mind they are only available for 60 days. Shelter Market also offers a rewards program for members. For every $1 spent on products the customer will receive a point. For every 20 points you get a $1 off your order and for every 100 points you get $5 off your entire order. Points are added 24 hours after purchases are made. Customers simply have to log into their account and check their profile to see how many points they have accumulated. Points can be used on every order or saved for a big discount on a larger order.
The National Compassion Club is one of those vendors that once you enter the shop you begin to feel a sense of relief. When you arrive on the home page there is a shop sales button right away for their customers to look for the best deals. The packaging is discreet and always arrives on time. National Compassion Club carry a pretty vast variety of products to try and serve everyone with whatever they may need.