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Helping patients obtain medicinal green cards

By Vanessa Rotondo on October 31, 2015

If you live or work in Ottawa’s trend-setting Hintonburg, chances are you’ve noticed the new addition to Wellington Street’s storefronts.

National Access Cannabis (NAC), a BC-based company founded by former Public Servant Alex Abellan, recently opened its franchise doors this past July in the heart of Ottawa’s blooming Hipsterville.  The clean, haute-couture look, lined with an organic bamboo wood storefront sign is both inviting and surprising, given the negative stigma that is often associated with medicinal and recreational cannabis use. NAC’s mandate aims to do just that: deconstruct negative messaging and to help improve patients’ quality of life through alternative care by providing health awareness, responsible access and risk reduction.

Ottawa Manager and Cannabis Information Specialist Angelo Muscari shared that “our clinic acts as the link between doctors and legal cannabis producers”, ensuring safe and patient-tailored approaches to obtaining legal medical marijuana licensing cards. The NAC assists patients with putting together their files for licensing applications and provides comprehensive assessments in partnership with doctors to assist patients in making the best decisions for their needs.

Welcomed with an open mind by most of Hintonburg’s community members, some dwellers still expressed legitimate hesitation towards their newest neighbour, concerned about the implications of opening such an establishment in a neighbourhood that houses young families, children and an old long-standing history of substance abuse issues.

Although true, there’s really not too much to worry about. The NAC is not a dispensary – at least not until Health Canada gives the green light – and even then, the Canada-wide franchise prides itself on a responsible national framework for secure medical marijuana access card distribution, that was developed in consultation with law enforcement.

“Whether a patient suffers from anxiety, depression or stage four cancer, we can help them make an educated decision,” said Muscari. “We encourage community members to come in and get informed, learn about medicinal cannabis and to ask questions.”

The Ottawa NAC office is committed to giving back to its community. They are currently taking donations for the Snowsuit Fund of Ottawa and will be teaming up with the Ottawa Coalition to End Violence against Women’s (OCTEVAW) Shine the Light campaign in November. For more information on how to obtain medical cannabis licensing, visit their website here. You can also find them on Instagram as nationalacesscannabis_ottawa and on Twitter @NACclinicOttawa.

Vanessa Rotondo is an Ottawa-based freelance writer, national spoken word artist and youth engagement coordinator/arts educator.  You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.