Moncton Patient Fighting to Use Vaporizer in Hospital

A medical patient in Moncton is fighting with authorities over his ability to vaporize medical cannabis while staying in hospital.

Dealing with post-taumatic stress disorder and chronic pain, Michel Arsenault has a prescription for medical cannabis after finding little help from pharmaceutical drugs.

“It’s natural and it’s easy on my lungs and my throat and if I have to be on this medicine then this is the way to go,” Arsenault said.

While staying at Dr. Georges-L-Dumont University Hospital Centre, Arsenault said he was told by staff he was unable to use his vaporizer to medicate inside the hospital, asking him to leave the building if he wanted to vape as smoking was not allowed inside.

“I said, ‘I agree with that but i’m not smoking, I’m vaping,'” Arsenault said. “There’s no harm to my health, there’s no smell. You should compare apples to apples. There’s no harm to my health, there’s no smell. I don’t know what the problem is.”

Health officials said vaporizer use is barred from their facilities.

“At present, there is no regional policy within Vitalité Health Network allowing for the use of medical marijuana or vaporiser,” said Vitalité Health Network spokesperson Luc Foulem, who added that the “subject is presently under study.”

Horizon Health Network spokesperson Stephanie Neilson said all of the network’s buildings are smoke-free.

“No tobacco products/medical marijuana/herbal products intended to be smoked or heated; smoking devices in any form or e-cigarettes/ENDS are to be used, including inside any vehicle parked on the grounds,” she said, in an email.

Arsenault said New Brunswick hospitals need to take a page from facilities in Quebec, where, in 2014, Sherbrooke University Health Centre allowed medical cannabis use in patients’ rooms with approval of the attending physician.

“They don’t know what it is and they don’t want to learn,” Arsenault said. “It’s time we embrace this as a medicine.”