Patients Charged to Access Health Canada’s Medical Marijuana Program

Some Canadians say greed is taking over Health Canada’s medical marijuana program.

Patients just need a doctor’s signature to obtain the drug, but finding a physician willing to sign can be tough. Now, an exclusive Global News investigation has discovered some patients are having to pay hundreds of dollars just for that signature.

Suffering from multiple sclerosis, Marie Cole was desperate for help. “I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I was really messed up and I wasn’t able to see right.”

“My eyes kept falling like they wanted to roll back in my head. Like, I couldn’t keep them open. My eyes would get really watery. I’d kind of have numbness in certain parts of my body,” recalls Cole.

“Sometimes I’d have problems walking… When I would drink water sometimes I wasn’t able to completely drink it, sometimes there would be a little bit that would come out of my mouth.”

After hearing from other patients that marijuana could help, she decided to give it a try. She says it worked. “There was so much pain…I didn’t know when it was going to stop (or) if I should go to the hospital, because it’s really, really strong and you just don’t know what’s going on.”

“It worked so good that I couldn’t even believe I didn’t have to wait. I didn’t even finish smoking the joint. I hit it three times and it was gone. I was so shocked.”

But Cole says she felt blindsided trying to access Health Canada’s medical marijuana program. “I felt like I was a part of a scam or something, honestly.”

All of her doctors refused to sign the government paperwork needed for a legal marijuana licence. “A couple of doctors I went to (made) me feel bad because I’ve kind of asked them about it. Marijuana for medicinal purposes – they don’t agree with it. So they kind of make me feel like I’m trying to do something shady here.”

But then, she heard about Dr. Ira Price, a physician she says is known for being sympathetic to cannabis as a medication.

She made an appointment, but the address she was given wasn’t for a doctor’s office at all. It was for a law firm.

Cole recalls, “As I was sitting down, he said ‘OK, I need the $1,000.'”

“I stopped and said ‘What? $1,000? What are you talking about?'”

“He was like, ‘It’s $1,000 to fill out the paperwork.’ And I’m like, ‘$1,000 for what? What are you doing? Seriously, I can fill out the paperwork myself.'”

Global National’s Jennifer Tryon asked criminal lawyer Ron Marzel to explain why he was intervening in medical appointments, and why patients were being charged for a program that’s supposed to be free and accessible.

“Listen, I will help people who want to be helped. There’s a market for it. There’s no question that there’s a market for it,” Marzel said.

Global News has learned that since few doctors are willing to grant patients access to Health Canada’s medical marijuana program, that Marzel developed a network of doctors, including Price, willing to approve for cash. He does the paperwork, and they all profit.

Cole says, “People like me, we don’t have a lot of money. We can’t afford this. It’s ridiculous.”

Price says he doesn’t charge to sign. But a Global News producer, posing as a patient at Price’s clinic, was charged $339.

Global News discovered the clinic’s sole intent is to sign the forms patients need to access Health Canada’s medical marijuana program.

Price says, “I don’t have any financial motivation in the clinic whatsoever. I’m assuming it’s a free market. If they want to charge a certain amount and a patient is willing to pay for it, or a client, it doesn’t have to do with me.”

Both Price and Marzel say the Health Canada program is confusing and riddled with red tape, so they’re helping patients navigate it.

The federal government is promising improvements, but Colin Carrie, the health minister’s parliamentary secretary, says he didn’t know how badly the system was being abused. “What you’re telling me, I’m totally unaware of,” he said.

“We need to make a change… So what Health Canada is going to be doing over the next 18 to 24 months, we’re going to be phasing in a new program… so (medical marijuana) is designed more like a real drug.”

Cole is hopeful changes are on the way. She says the marijuana has made a world of difference relieving the pain of MS. “It’s the only thing that does that.”

Not all doctors are opposed to medical marijuana. However, since there are no guidelines, physicians are unsure what it should be prescribed for, or even how much.

In the second part of her special report, Jennifer investigates how drug dealers are exploiting medical marijuana, and how they’re making huge profits off a program that is supposed to help sick and dying Canadians. Watch her story on Wednesday’s Global National at 5:30 PT/MT/CT, 6:30 ET/AT.

Read it on Global News: National | EXCLUSIVE: Patients charged to access Health Canada’s medical marijuana program

– Article from Global.



  1. Anonymous on

    Forgot to say, I am in Calgary Alberta

  2. Anonymous on

    Hi, I have sent my forms away and am waiting for my card. I am looking for someone to help with my supply. Thx in Advance

  3. awesomesound on

    : I Paid Just Over $500.00 for my ATP because my doctor would not sign, but I meet the criteria of the MMAR program through any Physician. Until all Physician are mandated to accept there patients needs over there own (ignorance}in brackets because tests are done, research is in, Guess What? Cannabis IS MEDICALLY BENIFICAL. .
    To all Doctors & Politicians go to :// then click on Cannabis Videos-Updated Daily, Here you find information videos on everything from Dispensaries and how they work to Accredited Doctors explaining the usages, effects, side effects of Cannabis. Look further into this site and you will find studies, research modals and findings. Or if you choose just search Google and you will find all the necessary information you will need including Prescriptions and Dosages per day. Please Do Not say there is not enough Research or Studies for you or your patients to make a honest responsible choice for Cannabis as a medical treatment if the prognosis is warrantedd

  4. Anonymous on

    Have you found a grower yet? I am willing to grow for free. I know this is a late post, just hoping you would still be looking or know someone who is?

  5. Anonymous on

    Have you found a grower yet? I am willing to grow for free. I know this is a late post, just hoping you would still be looking or know someone who is?

  6. Anonymous on

    Thats exactualy what I what to know, I am in sever pain 24/7 and I am tired of crying out for help. my next step in life I think and I do hope not is 6 feet under or in jail and I am 40 :)I was on every narcotic out there and after 3 years I have liver damage, and now I dont know where to turn

  7. Anonymous on

    I fractured and dislocated my spine in 2008 It is hard to get any drugs to stop the pain. The drug (high) users have made my life really hard.
    The system seems to care more to give people methadone!

  8. Anonymous on

    I fractured and dislocated my spine in 2008 It is hard to get any drugs to stop the pain. The drug (high) users have made my life really hard.
    The system seems to care more to give people methadone!

  9. Anonymous on

    My doctor is so wonderful did the papers for me and did not charge me anything.
    but my problem now is l cant afford to buy it from Health Canada they want 5.00 a gram that is 150. a month oo many serious pain killers every day l need more and now l am scared and know l have to get off the pills. Even with the pills l am still in so much pain it is unreal.

    Now l have to supply a growers name to them and try to find someone is another problem. My doctor is putting me on one gram a day while they wene me off my pills then will increase the dose.

    Every one l mention to health canada they say is operating outside the premiters, unreal. i need to find someone that will grow it for me do you have any suggestions.

    i am a older person and dont know that l want to start growing myself laughing.

  10. Al1957 on

    Oh yeah the percocet WILL ruin your liver they are almost as bad as Tylenol #3
    I know because they ruined my liver and now they put me on Methadone for pain.Methadone for pain and they wont let me have Cannabis. What is WRONG with this picture.

  11. Anonymous on

    If this is an open and approved way to resolve pain issues
    Them why is there not a list of dr’s to help people.
    I for instance have a blown out knee and have
    Pain all day everyday! I asked my dr about this option
    And was told “no , its a grey area” so instead I am given
    200 Percocet tablets a month that I fear will wreck
    My liver in the next few years and would like another option!

    Where’s the list?

  12. highman on

    yes the system has flaws but health canada will not put anything better into effect. they are going to start forcing patients to bu medicine when as we all know can be grown for pennies. strains that have been altered for the last 10 years to better suit patients will be thrown out the door and will be replaced with a lovley “sativa”. this is not something that will help people anymore than an easy couple hundo is hurting patients. it will turn the medical marijuana into a gongshow. if doctors want to pull the medical marijuana card it should have nothing to do with raw marijuana, at least only perscribe tintures and creams that do not get you high. leave raw cannabis to those of us that are willing to say i like to get high.
    the system works better than anything theyll replace it with. dont trust health canada any more than you trust el presidente harper

  13. Rider Libertas on

    In a society where you need money to live and whomever has the most wins, anything desirable that is banned automatically creates a black market – at every possible level. Absolutely wherever there is a buck to be made you will find someone sleazy enough to profit from it. This will not change with legalization but at least introducing more competition will minimize the sleaze somewhat.

  14. StonedScottsman on

    I just applied for my Licence and I am so happy that my specialist who first convinced me to try the Herb of Life. Never charged me to fill the forms and suggested sites like this and the VDS for my supplies while I wait for my licence. A list of doctors who are willing to do the forms free should be posted somewhere.

  15. Anonymous on

    this whole health canada program should go to garbage. The greed is everywhere and I suspect many pro-cannabis people want to take advantage.Many so called help centers are more centered on keeping the business alive and protecting their own interests than genuinely helping people in need.

  16. Anonymous on

    Wait until you see how the new health canada program takes advantage of patients, and strips all their rights.

  17. Anonymous on

    PS: Good for them for finally giving this atrocity “some” news coverage, albeit it a bit late.

    PPS: If you feel like you’re part of a huge scam, congratulations, you’re in the Health Canada program as it was designed.

  18. Anonymous on

    “Totally unaware of” my ASS. Dr. Saul was telling his patients to grease their palms by buying Health Canada seeds from them, as though it was mandatory. He’d then ask you for money and tell you he needed more money for other referrals he’d have to get from his brother in law.

    Turns out it’s not mandatory to buy Health Canada seeds but, you may or may not ever get your photo ID card?

    Then there’s a place in BC that actually charges you a PERCENTAGE OF YOUR WAGES.

    This predation isn’t a new thing and has been going on since its inception. Because the consensus for doctors was NOT to sign for it, those who were willing to knew they were in a black market and could profit accordingly, just like they do with the US model.