Nearly a dozen medical marijuana advocates took to the streets outside South Surrey-White Rock-Cloverdale MP Russ Hiebert’s constituency office Thursday morning.
BC Cannabis Partners Campaign members David Hutchinson and Joy Davies were among the participants who braved the rain, bearing signs protesting the federal government’s new medicinal pot system, which they said would restrict availability to users and raise prices.
Under the new system – which the federal government hopes to fully implement by March 31, 2014 – the government will no longer produce and distribute medicinal marijuana or allow production to take place in homes, “opening up the market to companies which meet strict security requirements,” a release states.
However, Davies argued, by allowing the private sector to control the medicinal marijuana market, prices will rise.
Currently, medicinal marijuana costs about $5 per gram. Under the proposed changes the price could rise to about $8.80 a gram.
“We need to draw the attention to this and get changes made. The new regulations are hurting us more than the old ones were,” Davies said.
The 64-year-old Semiahmoo Peninsula resident, who began using medicinal marijuana a decade ago following a car accident that left her with chronic fibromyalgia, said that without affordable access to the medication, many users will end up in more pain or even dead.
“There are many other models that will work better. All we want is our dignity. As citizens and sick people, we just want to be able to afford the medication that works for us,” she said.
Hutchinson, who lives in South Surrey, echoed Davies about the importance of access to medicinal marijuana.
Protesting on behalf of his 19-year-old daughter Beth, who was diagnosed with a glioma – a type of brain tumour – when she was 16, Hutchinson said the cost of the medicinal marijuana Beth needs will skyrocket if the new system goes into play.
“Right now, it costs a couple hundred dollars a month, but under the new proposal it would cost $3,100 a month. That’s a lot of money. It would cost $36,000 a year just for the medicine,” he said.
BC Cannabis Partners Campaign members plan to encourage the creation of a committee in order to define perimeters for a pilot project on medicinal marijuana, bringing together federal and provincial goverment – much like Insite, Davies noted.
“They set a precedent of a bilateral pilot project between the two levels of government. The doors have been opened,” Davies said. “We just want a patients-first program.”