bc ferries

BC Ferries’ No Smoking Policy – No Consideration For Medical Cannabis

Originally published Jan. 3, 2018

On January 22, 2018, BC Ferries will begin violating the human rights of medical cannabis users everywhere when they begin their new smoke-free environment policy. Legalization is more than just a speck on the horizon and we know without a doubt that there are people who need medicinal cannabis to live; our laws would not be rapidly changing if we didn’t.

It seems incredibly ludicrous and downright negligent that considerations to protect the rights of both medical users as well as the public are not mandatory, especially with essential services such as transportation. This is a catastrophic lack of oversight that will have serious consequences for a vast majority of people in our society… here’s why…

From the perspective of someone who is sick…

  • Most voyages on BC Ferries are a minimum of an hour and a half long.
  • A vast majority of Doctors and Specialists, clinics, over 3 hospitals and treatment options are centered in Vancouver, including The BC Cancer Agency, BC Center for Disease Control, and BC Women’s Clinic at UBC Hospital
  • The Province knows and understands how often medical travel is necessary to the point where they pay for it with The Travel Assistance Program.
  • BC Ferries is the ONLY way to physically get onto the mainland unless you can afford to fly. A harbor plane costs on average of $140 per flight and it can double at the airport. If you can’t fly or use the ferry, you are stuck.

When I was really ill and waiting for my operation, I had to go back and forth from Victoria and Vancouver a lot and believe me, I felt every bump we went over. As someone whose body doesn’t tolerate opiates, cannabis is my only option for pain both mild and severe.

Knowing that I would be traveling just days after having a major organ removed and that I would be unable to take any form of opiate, my surgeon agreed to sign for my license for the Federal right to access, possess and use cannabis medicinally.

The biggest concern I had at the time was avoiding any persecution from the police, never imagining I had to worry about BC Ferries.

BC Ferries’ policies create problems, not fix them

Like the majority of cannabis users, I don’t want to bother anyone when I am medicating; I want to be able to relax. There are few experiences that are more uncomfortable than coming face to face with a child when you are blowing out a toke, or furthermore, a pissed off parent.

When I had to take the Ferry and avoid these encounters, I would use my personal vaporizer from the passenger seat of my car. With it producing no smoke, along with a great air freshener and a safe driver escort waiting sober in the cafe, I could medicate with windows up and rest if I needed it; all scent would dissipate by the time we arrived at our destination.

Unfortunately, in October 2017, they changed the rules so that no one can stay in their vehicles below deck because of a “risk of fire” and “to harmonize with BC Ferries’ other policies”. Starting January 2018, the entire time you are waiting for a ferry or being transported by one, you can not smoke or vaporize medical cannabis anywhere, at all; even if you need it to live and have a Federal License legitimizing that.

Sorry friend, these days are in the past…

Comparing tobacco and cannabis… enough is enough

The only reason that this has been overlooked by so many is that smoking or vaporizing medical cannabis is being grouped in with tobacco use. The majority of the information being released about this new policy is centered around cigarettes but medical cannabis is certainly noted.

A great display of ignorant negligence by whoever created this policy- smoking tobacco and cannabis are two completely different things. One has and continues to save countless lives, the other ends them.

A policy without respect for the law, life or death…

Based on data published by Wall et. al 1981 and Lindgren et.al 1981.
Based on data published by Wall et. al 1981 and Lindgren et.al 1981.

There is a lot of medical conditions that require the quick release of THC into the bloodstream that only inhalation can provide, a number of these are fatal.

  • If you have epilepsy and feel a seizure coming, you do not have time to ingest an edible or capsule to interrupt the process with cannabinoids.  
  • Smoking cannabis has been reported to relieve the intraocular eye pressure for a Glaucoma patient by up to 30% in 10 minutes. Other forms of taking cannabis have not be proven to be anywhere near as effective when treating this condition.

Have you ever wondered why our laws began with inhaling medical cannabis and not eating it? Medical cannabis was only considered in the first place due to the unmatched positive effect that smoking had in treating Glaucoma and the fact that no one could argue otherwise.

BC Ferries… more powerful than the UN?

Our Government derives its cannabis regulation guidelines from the 1961 Convention on Narcotics, a current international treaty signed by 185 nations. Articles 1, 2, 4, 9, 12, 19, and 49 strongly affirm the importance of access and use of cannabis for medicinal purposes. We have laws that protect us from medical discrimination when it comes to tenancy, employment, and other fundamental rights at every level of Government, even on a global scale. Why BC Ferries feels that they can justify creating a policy superseding a UN, internationally signed treaty is unfathomable.

BC Ferries
BC Ferries knows better, apparently.

It’s safe to say that transportation to be able to access vital services, let alone mainland Canada, is a pretty essential public service. No one should have to choose between being able to get off an Island and going without medicine.

Instead of working to adapt to the changing laws and needs of our society, BC Ferries has taken an archaic step backward, putting the lives of society’s most vulnerable at great risk. The people who are responsible for public transportation need to accept the fact that smoking cannabis is saving lives, accommodate it, and sink this kind of policy for good.