Cannabis. To some, it’s medicine, or a drug, or a way to relax. To others, they are indifferent, skeptical about it’s use, or choose not to believe a natural plant that does no harm could do so much good. I used to be one of the skeptics.
Two years ago, my husband was diagnosed with a terminal form of cancer called Merkel Cell Carcinoma found at Stage 4 in his lymph nodes. Merkel Cell Carcinoma is a rare and fast-growing form of skin cancer that only 1000 people get diagnosed with in North America per year. Doctors know very little about this form of cancer. Normally, a patient's prognosis is grim because 90% of people diagnosed with Merkel Cell Carcinoma are over the age of 60 and are too ill or old to go through extensive chemotherapy or radiation treatment to slow down the rapid growth of Merkel Cell Carcinoma. My husband at the time was only 35 when he received his diagnosis and was expected to only live 3 months.
After several chemotherapy treatments his condition worsened, I suggested he try cannabis in hopes it would help him. He was skeptical it would be beneficial, but knew it was no worse than his monthly chemotherapy and medications since I did not have to wear a haz-mat suit to hand him a joint. He found cannabis not only helped pre-existing back pain, but eliminated nausea for up to 4 hours, gave him energy, appetite, helped his depression caused by his diagnosis and was able to re-gain some independence again. I saw cannabis take a man off his death bed quicker than he was put there. Though, cannabis could not help him with recovering between chemotherapy treatments but made life more bearable while going through it. Even years after his chemotherapy is over (and he’s still alive) he is left with a chronic ‘bone ache‘ common with people who have been through chemo, and a loss of energy and appetite he once had prior to his treatments.
Adam found no supportive doctor who would sign his MMAR. Even his oncologist, the doctor that told him he only had 3 months to live suggested he “buy off the street” because what cop would arrest a man with cancer? Well, this doctor was mis-informed. Because they do, violently. Sure, we found some doctors who wanted $500 for a signature, but it was far beyond what we could afford. It made us wonder who exactly could afford $500 a year to have their paperwork signed? Doctors don’t even get paid $500 a visit by Health Canada when you see them. Health Canada’s wages for doctors are posted publicly. Depending on the doctor or circumstance, they receive $60-$120 per visit. Something along these lines are more fair and affordable to someone on a reduced income from CPP Disability, ODSP or a pension. Most people looking to obtain a MMAR are usually on a fixed income, because they’re ill! It shouldn’t be held against them. Also, I think it would be illogical for a doctor to risk their practice and license over $100, even $200. The risk far outweighs the gain, regardless of how much they would make annually from it. However, a doctor that charges $500 up to $1000 to fill out paperwork- which doctor would be more likely to turn a blind eye to someone who is.. not so sick? And, who would be more likely to have this kind of money readily available to pay said doctor?
Health Canada is considering making changes to the MMAR to take away a patient's right to grow because of criminals. But, how exactly did these criminals obtain a MMAR? I think some of the statistics could be falsified. In Canada, our Charter of Rights and Freedoms gives us freedom of association. And, regardless of what a person does or who they know, because they are a ‘criminal‘ doesn’t make them immune to illnesses, diseases, and getting common conditions associated with age. So if they did actual research, how many would be left out of 20,000 exemptions that are actually using and abusing the system. That paid a doctor to turn a blind eye only to take advantage of the system. And how come, because of so few taking advantage- why are thousands left to suffer?
The average monthly income for someone on assistance from disability or retirement ranges from $700-$1500 per month depending on the province, circumstances and where the income is coming from. Cannabis can currently be grown outdoors for essentially free less the costs of some nutrients. It can also be grown indoors very inexpensively. However, Health Canada wants to take away this affordability and charge patients $8/g [$500-$2480 per month based on the average prescription of 2g-10g/day]. Most indoor growers will find that they are paying no more than $200/mo additional hydro for a larger indoors grow operation- and someone with a 2g/day prescription and only 10 plants will not generate $500 worth of hydro or nutrients per month.
Health Canada’s proposal is not only inconsiderate, but goes against some basic human rights. If I need medicine- Most have benefit plans or can purchase third party health plan. Depending on the province, if you have low income and would qualify for a provincial disability plan- you can get free health coverage from your own government. If you choose to use holistic remedies, many can be grown in your backyard, or a window ledge for free. But Health Canada has no intention of issuing a BIN number for cannabis, and they are taking away a patients right to grow their own holistic and beneficial medicine for free. Implementing these new regulations will only cost our government more money, because those who receive a lower income will be arrested for continuing to grow because they cannot afford to buy their medication. Daily, cannabis related charges are being withdrawn because many qualifying patients cannot afford or find a supportive doctor and the government does recognize this and does withdraw charges based on health conditions. Should new laws be implemented, the courts would have to recognize and provide the same respect and consideration since a person should not be arrested for being poor.
I think these new regulations would have very little legal standing when brought to court. This does not stop violent police arresting sickly people, and crown attorneys dragging cases out in hopes of finding ‘something’ because they don’t want to lose. But when the decision comes to a judge or jury, no human being could ever send a sick person to jail for not having enough money, even if it was brought as far as a trial. These new regulations would also cost the government more money. I have no doubts people would still continue to grow- and eventually be arrested by police, and have a case dragged out by a crown attorney, and be represented by a legal-aid funded lawyer. All this excess time, efforts and money so a small percentage out of 20,000 people would not be able to sell cannabis. Wouldn’t that same money be better spent on funding efforts on stopping meth and crack dealers, illegal gun sellers, or heck.. Education?
I have personally been using medicinal cannabis for a year. I had an unsuccessful knee surgery leaving me with chronic pain and difficulty walking; leaving me to rely on the assistance of others just to live. I also have a nerve disorder causing tremors and chronic nerve pain in my hands, legs and face. Simply typing out this blog post sharing my ideas, experience and opinions is a struggle- without cannabis. I have to use a walker or cane to get around. I also have a digestive disorder that causes sensitivity to almost all medication, and a year prior to using cannabis, I was chronically ill just from taking medications to help some symptoms and in turn would create new ones or worsen pre-existing conditions. Cannabis is the only medicine I have ever taken that helps all my health conditions, and does not make me sick.
There was a me before I was disabled. Everyone had a them before they landed where they are. I had a great job, happy and comfortable lifestyle and just thinking back to when I was able to walk easily where ever I wanted is something I truly miss. One of the last freedoms I have, that I am still physically able to do is grow my own medicine. Do not take away our freedom to grow and access affordable medicine.
Jane Grey is the author of My Criminal Cure detailing her husband's struggle with cancer, using cannabis as medicine and their legal battle.
Georgia : Well said Jane! Jane is a friend of FB , I can not wait to read this book. So sad that so many people are suffering and dealing with this crap. I am sure it is just the beginning of a POTlitical nightmare to come, thanks to The MMAR program.
Stay tuned and tooned..