Pubdate: Wed, 13 May 2009
Source: Comox Valley Record (CN BC)
Copyright: 2009 Comox Valley Record
Author: Colleen Dane
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Medicinal - Canada)


A change in policy at the Department of Veterans Affairs means local
disability pensioner Bruce Webb may get the cost of his medical
marijuana covered.

"This is an amazing thing that I didn't think I would live long enough
to see," said Webb, who has severe/chronic neuropathic pain. "After
all this time, screaming and singing, it's approved. It's amazing isn't it?"

A letter that came this week from Veterans' Affairs said the cost of
Health Canada medical marijuana may be covered if it is proved to be
needed to treat Webb's pension condition.

It's a big step in a five-year ongoing battle for Webb, who has
previously been licensed to use medical marijuana.

He got that initial approval in 2004, but gave it up in 2006 when he
was cut off for not paying the estimated $490 a month it cost for the

It was too high a cost, he said, to keep up with on the limited

When he started growing it himself, he was busted by

Since then, he said he's been buying illegally grown marijuana and has
given up his medical marijuana licence.

"It's night and day," said Webb about the effect of medical marijuana
on his condition. "It's so hard to even explain ... it gives me a
freedom to move."

The letter doesn't outline a simple approval process - Webb will have
to go through the process of getting a medical marijuana licence
again, as well as pay off his Health Canada debt of $2,000 before a
supply could start again.

Nonetheless, organizations advocating for better access to medical
marijuana, say the decision is an important one.

"For many, this medicine is more effective than the available
alternatives, with fewer negative side-effects. It is so important
that the cost for this medicine is covered for those in need," said
Rielle Capler, director for Canadians for Safe Access, a patients'
advocacy group. 
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