With few Canadian doctors willing to prescribe medical marijuana, it’s already hard to trade in pain pills for spliffs.
But if new Health Canada regulations due out this month look anything like their working versions, medicinal dope may soon become even harder to score – particularly for the sick without hefty bank accounts.
Until now, medical users – of whom there are 26,222 in Canada – could get a licence to grow their own or could designate a grower, who’d also be licensed, to produce marijuana for them.
Under Health Canada’s proposed “improvements,” however, both licences would disappear, and production would instead be farmed out to government-certified contractors. “Licensed producers will be responsible for setting their own prices,” the agency’s website ominously notes.
“A couple of companies can make big profits, but all the sick people will have to pay huge amounts of money,” says Paul Lewin, a lawyer in an ongoing court case that seeks to make medical marijuana more accessible.
For those who grow themselves, being forced to buy pot would significantly add to the cost of keeping pain at bay, which currently runs them between pennies and dollars a day. Most have little hope that the designated companies would make an effort to keep prices down.
“Marijuana is the perfect pain medicine right now,” says Lewin. “Opioids are destroying our population and are also expensive. With marijuana, patients don’t need money from anyone. It’s not costing anyone anything.”
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