Pubdate: Sat, 09 Mar 2013
Source: Hamilton Spectator (CN ON)
Copyright: 2013 The Hamilton Spectator
Author: Joan Walters
Page: 3


Michelle Kanashiro is concerned after the bust of a Hamilton criminal
organization that police say used Canada's medical marijuana program
as a front for alleged drug trafficking.

"These people have made us all look bad," said Kanashiro, who believes
the charges further stigmatize legitimately licensed medical marijuana
users. "We're not bad, we're sick."

Kanashiro has used 10 to 15 grams of weed a day over the last three
years for a roster of ailments that include hepatitis B, which has
caused painful liver problems. She is one of about 28,000 people
licensed by Health Canada to possess marijuana for medical purposes or
to produce small amounts for themselves or others.

Her marijuana arrives once a month from a retired botanist friend in
British Columbia.

"All we have to pay for is his hydro," she said. "He's doing it
because he's our friend and he's our designated, licensed grower. It's
all totally legitimate."

Kanashiro uses weed for pain management, appetite enhancement and as a
sleep aid because "it does all kinds of wonderful things for me. I'm
almost 55 years old and who would have thought I'd be using marijuana
at this age."

She resents that abuse of the national marijuana licensing program
means she soon will be unable to get her weed from the B.C. friend.

Health Canada has said fraudulent use of licences prompted changes to
the way patients access marijuana.

Hoping to eliminate criminal exploitation of the system, Health Canada
is ending personal production licences for marijuana in favour of
licensed commercial growers who would be inspected and audited by
Health Canada.

"We're no longer going to have a choice," Kanashiro

The Health Canada crackdown also bothers Ron Borer, a user with
multiple sclerosis.

"These people who abuse the system are affecting my ability to
function," said Borer, a 40-year-old Burlington resident.

Borer got his licence about five years ago with medical approvals from
his neurologist and family doctor and found it instantly took away his

"I don't do it a lot but I'll have a little puff, not even a whole
joint, when I'm having a bad day. I try not to do it too often."

Borer gets his weed through Health Canada, one of the current options
for licensed patients to access marijuana. He would have preferred to
continue to get it that way.

"I find it nice, easy and it's secure because it's through the
government," he said.
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