I host a weekly podcast (Cannabis and Coffee with Tamarijuana) that brings experts and patients together. I have been doing this now for just over a year. And what I hear in most every conversation — be it with an advocate, activist, doctor, etc. — is worry about over-regulation. This recreational legislation by the Canadian government is still going to leave patients with gaping holes in their medical program. Patients still fear losing the plant counts and prescriptions.
Some dispensaries send you to a naturopath to get a card to purchase from them. To be clear, these are not legal cards under authorization from Health Canada. Do I think they are enough? You bet. As long as you have some medical need or other showing that cannabis could benefit your health. But they’re not part of the legal medical cannabis program. And provincial governments (and Licensed Producers) want them shut down with recreational legalization.
Some legal patients have only small amounts prescribed to them regardless of need. Most of the clinics that charge small fees for a prescription will only give 1 to 5 grams a day, and it must come through a Licensed Producer. There are a number of these clinics running from coast to coast, backed by Licensed Producers.
There are other clinics with more options, but they also will charge upwards of $300.00 just to have the ability to grow your own (or buy from the Licensed Producer) by talking to a doctor on the phone. This is not strictly legal for a doctor to do in some provinces, but here’s the catch: on any Medlink or teleconference the doctor can charge provincial health care. I am not saying that this is right, moral or ethical, I am saying it is done.
In Ontario even a nurse practitioner can sign your ACMPR paper for Health Canada and its Licensed Producers. And there are currently 67 authorized Licensed Producers in the country. We fought so hard to keep our ability to grow our own plants via Allard, and there were so many prior battles in courts across the nation to get us where we are today. And over-regulation of the program is still failing patients.
Now legislation for recreational use is introduced, ten years after I started battling a flawed system to get my medicinal authorization. I didn’t even get approved until 2011, it wasn’t an easy battle, and the diagnosis was just the beginning of our troubles.
My husband and I finally received our ACMPR in the mail after we moved and had to reapply … seven months after the application was first put in. It expires on the day that my doctor signed, February first, leaving me maybe time to get in one crop. If my licence lapses I will be in the same position patients have seemingly been in for the last fifteen years, since the program was first put into place by a court order.
I am not the only one that has had to wait upwards of six months to get their new authorizations. Or is still struggling to find a doctor who doesn’t want a lot of money to allow them to garden for themselves. That is what stands in many people’s way. Never mind that their regular doctors won’t educate themselves enough to sign for their own patients as it is.
I am all for the consumer that wants to be able to go to a storefront and buy what they want. I’m also for the person that wants to be part of the industry as a craft gardener, baker, shatter-maker. I am all for freedom, and what we put in our bodies should be up to us.
It’s unfortunate that our government doesn’t see that over-regulation is not going to change a damn thing. Shutting down independent dispensaries will not stop people from buying: it’s supply and demand. After all, there weren’t dispensaries thirty years ago when I started consuming cannabis.
And if they think any of that will change with or without legalization they will be putting a big fat fail on all of it!