While the federal government’s new medical cannabis regulations are seen as a step in the right direction by once again giving patients the option to grow their own cannabis, patients aren’t calling the rules perfect.
Cheryl Rose’s daughter Haley suffers from a rare form of epilepsy, causing severe seizures that her mother has only found can be relived by treatment with cannabis oils.
Rose said Health Canada needs to do more to ensure patients have access to cannabis when they need it and receive the correct dosage.
She said Health Canada’s labelling system for licensed producers is flawed, and that independent testing has revealed stated CBD and THC levels on products aren’t accurate. She also said Health Canada’s rule of combining the levels of THC with THC-a isn’t a correct measurement of the active ingredients in the product.
“Say we used a licensed producer…and it says ‘total amount’ I don’t know how much is actually active or not,” Rose said. “If I give it to Haley, and it’s not what she needs, I need to be able to compensate for whatever those numbers are to get her the right medication.
“If you’re not telling me then I’m not able to give to the person or to consume myself something that I need, that’s unacceptable.”
Rose said a few licensed producers are doing separate labelling, but it’s needs to be mandatory.
Rose said when her daughter’s dosage was slightly changed the effects were seen immediately, that’s why it’s imperative producers properly label their products for patients.
The government’s restriction on THC levels in cannabis oil is also seen as a problem by Rose.
Health Canada’s “maximum yield quantity” for oils “must not exceed a maximum yield quantity of 30 mg of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol per millilitre of the oil in the immediate container,” this number includes delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinolic acid. Cannabis oil capsules have a maximum dosage of 10 mg.
Rose said these numbers aren’t practical for patients.
“They can’t treat themselves with that, they would have to take so much and it would be so overly costly to do that it would be ridiculous,” she said. “How do you consume it? You’re drinking bottles of it at that point — it’s not a logical thing to expect someone to use as medicine, and they’re taking it to save their life.”
Rose said something she did see as a positive in the ACMPR was the ability of health care practitioners to now administer cannabis to patients, something that wasn’t included under the MMPR.
“A health care practitioner may conduct the following activities in regard to a person who is under their professional treatment: (a) transfer or administer the substance; or (b) provide a medical document,” Health Canada regulations read.
“That’s a huge thing for patients,” Rose said. “[Previously] the doctors could sign off on patients using cannabis, but staff were not allowed to administer it. I couldn’t just drop off a bunch and have them give it to [Haley] on her schedule.”
Rose said, while she’s applying to begin growing her daughter’s medication again after falling out of the Allard injunction due to changing addresses, she isn’t sure how long it will take to regain access.
“There’s going to be a massive backlog, it’s kind of scary to think of how long it could possibly take,” Rose said. “I hope that they’re ready for it, I really hope that they’re prepared that there is going to be a backlog because there’s all the people that have moved or fell out of it and then there’s all the people who now want to apply and grow themselves as well.
“Let’s hope that they’re ready for it because there are people waiting.”