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Local access to production is vital
The day is fast approaching when new federal government regulations covering the production and sale of cannabis will be implemented.
Commercial growers will be permitted to grow, package and send by secure mail certain amounts of dried cannabis to patients who have a prescription for the product from a physician.
Under the legislation, B.C. is favoured by the federal government. It is the only province in the country whose residents will be permitted to make other products such as resin or hash from the dried cannabis.
But it appears that no one at the federal level has acknowledged that many users of medicinal cannabis do not smoke or inhale it.
Instead, they need access to processed products including cannabis oil, juice and ointment. Very few patients know how to process or distil cannabis themselves.
And how do such patients gain access to these processed items?
At the moment, they do so at dispensaries here in Vernon, such as the Herbal Health Centre and the Be Kind organization. But after April 2014 (when the new federal regulations are to be implemented), what will patients do? Where will they go?
The pharmacists are certainly not willing to help them.
They heaved a collective sigh of relief when then-health minister Leona Aglukkaq announced earlier this year that the new regulations would not require or allow for pharmacists to dispense medicinal cannabis.
So, will patients, whose use of cannabis has stabilized their condition, eased their pain, reduced their spasms, or given them hope where there was no hope before, and rely on a local dispensary today, then be expected to create their own oil, juice or ointment, after opening a package containing dried cannabis sent to them by a qualified commercial grower?
I hope not.
If today's legal users of medicinal cannabis wish to continue to have stress-free access to it, they have to let government and society at every level know that it is imperative that such dispensaries be permitted to continue to operate.
So contact your local mayor and members of council; phone the RDNO; write to B.C. Health Minister Terry Lake at firstname.lastname@example.org; or contact federal Health Minister Rona Ambrose at www.hc-sc.gc.ca/contact/ahc-asc/minist-eng.php
Speak to Colin Mayes or to Eric Foster. Contact anyone or any organization willing to help you air your concerns.
Local access to medicinal cannabis products is vital to the health of thousands of Canadians.