Sun­rise prides it­self as Con­nois­seur’s Choice

The Georgia Straight - - Cannabis -

(This ar­ti­cle is spon­sored by Sun­rise Well­ness Foun­da­tion.)

The lo­cal cannabis in­dus­try some­times comes un­der crit­i­cism for not fol­low­ing the rules. Un­li­censed shops con­tinue op­er­at­ing in var­i­ous parts of Metro Van­cou­ver, some­times pay­ing huge fines to re­main in busi­ness. And this can ir­ri­tate its neigh­bours.

Not Sun­rise Well­ness Foun­da­tion. One of its man­ag­ing di­rec­tors, Wal­ter Sorto, says the or­ga­ni­za­tion will al­ways com­ply with mu­nic­i­pal and, even­tu­ally, pro­vin­cial by­laws.

“We will only op­er­ate within the bounds,” Sorto in­sists. “We em­brace reg­u­la­tion. We wouldn’t op­er­ate if there weren’t reg­u­la­tions.”

There are two Sun­rise Well­ness dis­pen­saries in Van­cou­ver—one at 258 West Broad­way and the other at 2943 Kingsway. Sorto said the com­pany’s mis­sion is to pro­vide safe ac­cess to high-qual­ity prod­ucts made from cannabis pro­duced by B.C. grow­ers. These in­clude creams, tinc­tures, cap­sules, and other de­riv­a­tives.

“Our motto is ‘The Con­nois­seur’s Choice’,” Sorto says. “We pride our­selves in that. We carry flow­ers and ex­tracts that no one else will carry.”

For ex­am­ple, Sun­rise Well­ness car­ries flow­ers and ex­tracts from some of B.C.’S best pro­duc­ers, such as Brindle Farms, RPM, Tem­ple of Ca­lyx, Heav­enly Daze, and Con­cen­trat­edex.

Sorto adds, “Once we are al­lowed to buy from LPS, we hope to add flow­ers from the likes of Tan­talus Labs as well.

“When you come into our dis­pen­sary, it’s go­ing to be clean,” Sorto prom­ises. “It’s go­ing to be trans­par­ent. It’s go­ing to be wel­com­ing. Our staff are knowl­edge­able. They’re friendly. We want to get to know you on a first-name ba­sis.”

Staff train­ing and ed­u­ca­tion set Sun­rise Well­ness apart from other dis­pen­saries. Train­ing in­cludes par­tic­i­pat­ing in Cannareps Work­shops, a train­ing men­tor­ship pro­gram fo­cused on un­der­stand­ing cannabis prod­ucts, as well as the role and the ethics of pro­vid­ing ac­cess to cannabis.

Sun­rise Well­ness is a mem­ber of the Cana­dian As­so­ci­a­tion of Med­i­cal Cannabis Dis­pen­saries (CAMCD), which is a non­profit pro­mot­ing a reg­u­lated com­mu­nity-based ap­proach. It em­pha­sizes that dis­pen­saries must be trans­par­ent and fol­low best prac­tices to pro­vide the high­est stan­dard of care.

Sorto points out that be­ing trans­par­ent is one of the best ways to im­prove the rep­u­ta­tion of cannabis dis­pen­saries. The “canna-cu­ri­ous”, as he calls them, are wel­come to drop by and staff will ex­plain how dif­fer­ent prod­ucts are used. Sun­rise Well­ness also pro­vides “Cannabis Ba­sics,” a monthly, hand­son work­shop for those seek­ing more in-depth knowl­edge about cannabis and its many uses.

“One of the first things we want to do is ac­tu­ally un­der­stand why they’re com­ing in,” he re­veals. “What brought them in? What con­di­tions are they try­ing to man­age? What ex­pe­ri­ences have they had in the past?

“By ask­ing these ques­tions, we can un­der­stand why they want to use cannabis,” Sorto con­tin­ues. “Then we can bet­ter in­form them of the choices that they can make.”

If peo­ple sim­ply state they want an indica or sativa, staff will in­quire about what ef­fect they’re seek­ing. This can come through the fol­low­ing ques­tions: “Do you need it for sleep? Do you want to re­lax? Are you try­ing to man­age pain or an­other symp­tom?”, and so on.

“Once you start to un­der­stand what their needs are, you can bet­ter in­form them of the choices avail­able,” Sorto says. “If a per­son has a neg­a­tive ex­pe­ri­ence on cannabis, I don’t think it’s their fault. I think it’s the fault of the per­son who rec­om­mended what­ever prod­uct they’re sell­ing.”

Cannabis has been shown to be ef­fec­tive in ad­dress­ing symp­toms as­so­ci­ated with a wide range of con­di­tions. At Sun­rise Well­ness staff re­quire a con­fir­ma­tion of a di­ag­no­sis be­fore mak­ing cannabis prod­ucts avail­able to ad­dress is­sues re­lat­ing to the fol­low­ing list of dis­eases and con­di­tions: ADHD, AIDS/HIV, arthri­tis, asthma, brain and head in­juries, cancer, cere­bral palsy, chemo­ther­apy treat­ment, chronic pain, coli­tis, Crohn’s dis­ease, de­pres­sion, eat­ing dis­or­ders, eczema, em­phy­sema, end of life–pal­lia­tive care, epilepsy, fi­bromyal­gia, glau­coma, hep­ati­tis C, ir­ri­ta­ble bowel syn­drome, chronic mi­graines, mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis, mus­cu­lar dys­tro­phy, chronic and de­bil­i­tat­ing nau­sea, neu­ral­gia, para­ple­gia and quadriple­gia, pso­ri­a­sis, Parkinson’s dis­ease, ra­di­a­tion ther­apy, seizure and sleep dis­or­ders, spinal cord in­jury, sub­stance ad­dic­tion, and with­drawal.

“We still ask you for your med­i­cal doc­u­ments,” Sorto says.

The Sun­rise Well­ness man­ag­ing di­rec­tor doesn’t fit the pro­file of a stereo­typ­i­cal cannabis en­tre­pre­neur. With an un­der­grad­u­ate de­gree in po­lit­i­cal sci­ence and a mas­ter’s of busi­ness ad­min­is­tra­tion from SFU, he un­der­stands ev­ery­thing from mod­ern mar­ket­ing to the power of lob­by­ists. And he’s aware that each has played a role in sti­fling the use of cannabis in the past.

Sun­rise Well­ness’s other man­ag­ing di­rec­tors also come from di­verse back­grounds and ex­pe­ri­ences. “Do­minic and Max, both from Van­cou­ver, es­tab­lished Sun­rise Well­ness in 2014 and have a deep un­der­stand­ing in the pro­duc­tion of cannabis,” Sorto states. “Robin, orig­i­nally from Kelowna, is a guru on ex­tracts as well as pro­duc­tion. Ehren, orig­i­nally from Hawaii, is fo­cused on mu­nic­i­pal and pro­vin­cial mat­ters as the VP of CAMCD, and Manny, orig­i­nally from Mex­ico, is fo­cused on the mem­ber ex­pe­ri­ence. It is through this di­ver­sity that gives us strength and al­lows us to con­nect with our com­mu­nity.”

All the Sun­rise Well­ness di­rec­tors have a per­sonal goal of giv­ing back to the com­mu­nity, cre­at­ing a pos­i­tive space for cannabis ac­cess, and a com­mit­ment to con­tin­u­ously learn­ing new ways cannabis can ben­e­fit so­ci­ety.

Sorto adds, “Our mis­sion is to pro­vide ac­cess to qual­ity B.C. cannabis and its de­riv­a­tives to all walks of life. Whether you are a young pro­fes­sional, a mother of two, or a boom­ing boomer, Sun­rise Well­ness wel­comes you!”

One of the man­ag­ing di­rec­tors of Sun­rise Well­ness Foun­da­tion says his team em­braces reg­u­la­tion of lo­cal dis­pen­saries.

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