A medical marijuana patient who says she’s “had enough” of the Canadian government’s unfair treatment of med-pot users took a long walk, from Peterborough to Toronto, to deliver her message – and a bundle of letters she collected along the way – to the Ontario legislature.
Holistic healer Jennifer Collett left her Peterborough home on the morning of Friday, September 16 and didn’t look back until she was 140km away, on the front steps of the government building in Queens Park, Toronto. She arrived at her destination in the afternoon on Monday, September 19.
“It was a really powerful trip,” Collett told Cannabis Culture shortly after finishing her trek. “It was awesome. I saw so many incredible people. It wasn’t supposed to be huge and big, it was supposed to be getting to know the real people behind the medicine. And we did, we got to meet real people who are saying ‘look, I’m just your normal average Joe and cannabis helps me’.”
Shortly before her trip, Collett told CC she hoped the march would bring awareness to the silent struggle many Canadian med-pot patients face but are afraid or unable to speak out about.
“I’m doing it because I’ve had enough,” she said. “I’ve had enough as a healthcare provider watching people get basically stomped into the ground. Canadians are just letting it happen because the government tells us too.”
On the Cannabian Freedom Walk IV Chronic Illness Facebook page, Collett writes, “I will be collecting letters of the experiences people have had with Health Canada and the Marihuana Medical Access Regulations, stories about dealing with MPs or MPP’s when looking for help, as well as how the new proposed changes to the program will effect you”.
Collett is 33-year-old and suffers from fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, spondylolythsesis, and PTSD, and was a med-pot user for 10 years before she was able to get a MMAR licence. She says the current system forces too many patients to remain illegal and would like to see the province take over the program for Ontarians.
“I was told to take pharmaceuticals one after the other because they were going to figure out how to fix me. Eventually my doctor said ‘take the pills or I won’t be your doctor’. Those pills almost took my life and took the mother away from my children. They left me in a position where I couldn’t defend my daughter or articulate my needs or do anything for myself. So I did what I had to do to get better. Legally? No.”
Health Canada is currently in the process of “considering improvements” to its medical marijuana program and is holding public consultations to “hear from Canadians”.
“We’d like to know if the government is just letting us yammer in order to distract us, making us feel like they’re listening or whether they are really prepared to make change,” Collett said before the walk. “I hope they sit there and they listen. I hope they are more open to changing the way things are.”
As part of a petition she drafted, Collett asked the provincial government to take responsibility for the MMAR program and asked the federal government to remove cannabis from the CDSA Schedule, allowing the plant to be used for therapeutic, economic, and industrial purposes.
Collett said she and her small team had a great three-day trip, and the weather was good for most of the way. But upon arriving at the legislature, however, Collett did not receive the response she had hoped for. Security and officials stopped her at the stairs, but refused to speak with her.
“They had no concern whatsoever for the sick people of Ontario,” she told CC. “They turned their backs and walked inside. Unfortunately they didn’t know what to do with 140km of ‘hello, we have a message’ but run scared.”
Collet said though she is a bit discouraged, she will continue to fight.
“A lot of us were deflated today, but there’s still so much we can do if we stand together,” she said. “I thank everyone for the support.”