After losing an appeal to eliminate tax for medical cannabis users, a new e-petition is hoping to change policy through government where legal options failed.

BC Compassion Club Society founder Hilary Black has launched an e-petition through the government’s new online service, calling on the Minister of Finance to retroactively “amend tax legislation to ensure medical cannabis is treated consistently with other medical necessities and is zero-rated, exempt from sales tax.”

Black said when her court case failed she had the option to try and raise funds to take the fight to the Supreme Court or try to have the country’s legislation itself changed, and, with a new government taking a new approach to cannabis, she thinks the timing is great.

“When [cannabis is] accessed through a health care practitioner it’s very akin to a prescription and it needs to be taxed as such,” said Black. “Tax isn’t necessarily the sexiest story around in terms of grabbing people’s attention, but this is fundamentally an extremely important issue — we do not tax patients, we don’t tax medical necessities and it’s not okay for our government to be gathering sales tax on medical cannabis.”

Black, who is also the director of patient and community services at licensed cannabis producer Bedrocan, said she’s excited that this is an issue that both patients, dispensaries and producers can show a united front on, together

 “We’re hoping in the next couple of weeks will be able to bring together lots of different kinds of organizations onboard,” said Black.

Black said while Guelph Liberal MP Lloyd Longfield has sponsored the e-petition, he’s under no obligation to do more than read out the contents of the text in the House of Commons once it reaches the threshold of 500 signatures.

“That’s why we need to gather thousands of signatures, that’s why we need every medical cannabis patient across the country to sign it, because that’s what will give it clout,” said Black. “That’s what the policy makers are going to sit up and listen to.”

Black said now, while the government is completely overhauling the country’s regulations on cannabis, is the time to create a distinction between the medical and recreational systems.

“Two of the really important issues around affordability for patients are that it needs to be taxed like a medical necessity and we need to distinguish that it’s a medical necessity,” said Black. “Our next big project is to get it covered by insurance companies by patients.”

Black said the Liberal government has been quiet on recreational advancements and even quieter on changes to the medical program for patients, something she attributes to research and consultation being done behind the scenes.

 “I think we’re all chomping at the bit, asking ‘what are you going to do, what are you going to come up with?’ and so part of why I want to do the e-petition now is that I want this issue on the radar as they’re making decisions on how they’re going to regulate,” Black said. “They need to be making distinctions and watching out for the needs of our patients.”

“I don’t want our patients to get lost in the face of recreational legalization.”