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Medical Cannabis Users Feel Left Out of Current Process

An Ottawa medical cannabis user said she thinks medicinal users of marijuana are being left out of the conversation as the recreational movement goes forward.

To combat a combination of Multiple Sclerosis, Fibromyalgia and trigeminal neuralgia, Suzi Strand said she was previously permitted to produce her own cannabis until the federal government cracked down on independent production.

Strand said she feels left behind by a government that now seems to be focused on regulation of recreational cannabis.

“The sick and dying people laid the groundwork for cannabis in Canada and nobody cares anymore about us,” Strand said. “Now everybody is talking about legalization and how some people want to sell it in the LCBO. To me, cannabis is medicine.”

Patients across the country are waiting for the results of a court challenge filed against the previous Conservative government’s Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations program, but, until that is decided, many patients are stuck using the system that requires them to buy their medication from expensive government producers.

Strand’s license to grow her own cannabis expired in February 2014, missing by a month the injunction issued by a judge that allowed current license holders to continue growing until the courts decide the legality of the government’s program.

Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations director Laurie MacEachern said buying the medicine she needs through the current government system would cost her $50,000 annually, far exceeding the $11,000 a year she receives from her pension.

“Everyone is debating and working out how they’re going to look at legalization for everyone, whereas we’ve had a program of some sort for 15 years here now and they haven’t even got that right,” MacEachern said.

Strand said she’s concerned about breaking the law by buying from the street or growing without authorization, but those worries are trumped by health issues.

“I don’t want to go back to my wheelchair,” Strand said.