Tea of Pot or Pot of Tea, it’s Now Free

Sally Campbell no longer has to choose between buying a bag of apples or a few grams of marijuana.

The Halifax woman is on social assistance and the subject of a Nova Scotia Supreme Court ruling that the Community Services Department must now pay for her medical marijuana.

“I’m really glad it’s over,” the 61-year-old woman said of her five-year court battle to get her federally approved marijuana covered as a special need by the department.

“It’s been a long road, but I feel justice has been served. I can’t believe it, I was overwhelmed yesterday,” she said Thursday, the day after learning of the decision.

Campbell said she feels the department called her integrity and credibility into question, as well as that of her doctors, by refusing to acknowledge that her marijuana is medically necessary.

“It’s embarrassing,” she said of the public process.

After reviewing the evidence that the department had, Justice Gerald Moir ruled he could see no other conclusion than that Campbell’s marijuana is “essential” to her health and quality of life and ordered the province to pay for it.

“My gut feeling in reading the decision is that this is prying the lid off Pandora’s box,” said Debbie Stultz-Giffin, chairwoman of Maritimers Unite for Medical Marijuana.

“It’s opening up to most people on assistance who require medical marijuana and have a doctor’s authority, and have Health Canada’s authority, to apply to have their marijuana covered.

“I was extremely delighted (by the decision), knowing how long and how hard Sally fought for this and realizing how many people this is ultimately going to benefit,” she said.

Stultz-Giffin said she is aware of three other people on social assistance who have asked the Community Services Department in the past couple of years to pay for their medical mari-juana and have been turned down.

The province has not decided whether to appeal the ruling. Stultz-Giffin believes Nova Scotia will be the first province in Canada to cover the cost of medically approved marijuana for someone on social assistance.

Veterans Affairs Canada pays for the medical marijuana of veterans on disability benefits, providing their medical condition is related to their service.

Spokeswoman Janice Summersby said 13 veterans have their marijuana paid for by the federal government, with the first claim processed in February 2008.

Campbell’s ailments include hepatitis C, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, hypothyroidism, liver disease and disc degeneration. Medications such as interferon and ribavirin gave her debilitating side-effects.

She said she kept her mari-juana use hidden from most people for years because of the stigma attached to the drug.

“I just couldn’t stand the social pressure. It’s only when I got really ill that I came out of the closet,” and even then people accused her of using her illnesses as an excuse to get high.

Every year, she applies for an exemption from Health Canada that gives her permission to use two grams of marijuana a day. She pays $8 a gram. Given her limited income, Campbell said there are times she has to choose between eating and marijuana.

“It comes out of my food allowance,” she said of her pot money. “I have to decide whether I want to eat or I want my medication.

“”Fresh fruits and vegetables, that’s what I do without when I have to choose and I really miss it.”

She said it makes little sense to choose food over medicine because she gets nauseated and the hepatitis C makes her extremely lethargic.

“There are times you feel so dreadful, you feel like what’s the point in getting out of bed if you don’t want to cook.”

Campbell smokes her pot, but also cuts up the leaves, pours boiling water over them and steeps the tea on the stove for 90 minutes. She’s just received permission to increase her use to 10 grams a day, so she plans to use the leaves to make butter, cookies and brownies.

Stultz-Giffin takes six grams of marijuana a day for her multiple sclerosis. She’s been on various pain medications, steroids and anti-inflammatories, but most made her very ill, which only worsened her symptoms.

She said she developed a terrible rash over 80 per cent of her body in reaction to one drug and landed in hospital with a severe gastritis attack in reaction to another. It took her a year to recover from each reaction. Today, she takes only the marijuana and is managing well.

– Article from The Chronicle Herald.



  1. Anonymous on

    the gov doesn’t make money off of weed?

    This is a fact I would like to know?

    in the past 12 years Has Toronto seen a lessening of Pot dealers and busts? If so, does it coincide with how much business the Dispensaries are having?

  2. former calm member and supporter on

    I used to rely on calm for my meds. I have a federal card for 300 g / month. I have aids/hiv/ cancer, crones, arthritis, and hep c. I would go to calm when ever i had money to get my allocated medicine. The issue was going up to one window that did not carry my strain, buying an alternate then finding out what i needed was ar another window. It took them an hour and ten min to exchange what i bought at window 1 with what i needed at window 2. The next incident was later that summer when i tried to get my 300 g for a 5 week vacation. I was told i could only buy an oz per week…..i needed 300 g and had come in before and bought it. They then labeled me as a dealer and made me feel like shit . I needed meds , if i was a con i could or went to any of the other clubs that i am a member of and filled my order up to way more than my allocated 300 g.

    After that i decided to buy from gangs on the corner, lest it was cheaper and the were more polite…..yes thug crack dealers were more accommodating than calm. Shortly after that i found rainbow medicinal cannabis. I found their style more my thing. I was never treated like a number there so i helped them spread the word by putting up flyers on every 2nd street pole from queen and sherbourne up to bloor over to spadina and all the way back down to queen……and for that CALM removed me as a member and threatened to PUNCH me in the face if they saw me again…
    So you think poor calm , i think maybe bad carma….i dont like to relish in this cause they do assist alot of people who are sick BUT why do all they people that work there come to buy at rainbow medicinal cannabis?>??

    Its got to be cause there is something at rainbow that calm doesnt have….maybe work checking out

  3. The Ballyhoo on

    allowed to choose our own medicine? Over and over people are saying…”this is better than the pills…etc…”
    The Gov. always saysnope, it cant be…..

    But the truth is that it IS. If someone wants to use weed and it works better than addictive narcotics?


  4. renny b. on

    i think it is so crazy that in the twenty first century we are still having this debate about pot… weed should be legal for everyone to use for tea or whatever