Pubdate: Tue, 07 Jan 2014
Source: Metro (Calgary, CN AB)
Copyright: 2014 Metro Canada
Author: Robson Fletcher


Medical marijuana: Woman on liquid diet until hospital policy on 
vaporizers changes

Medical marijuana user Lisa Kirkman says she used to regularly 
consume vaporized cannabis while in Alberta hospitals but a sudden 
change in policy and grinding bureaucracy have now made it 
effectively impossible for her to access medical care.

"I want to be able to receive medical treatment like every other 
Albertan, like every other Canadian," she said Monday.

Kirkman said a Nov. 4 Alberta Health Services memo, which she 
described as a well intentioned attempt to codify a previously ad hoc 
policy on vaporizer use, ended up resulting in vaporizers being 
effectively banned in the interim.

"In the meantime, we should go back to the status quo," she said. "I 
need care now. I needed care two months ago."

Kirkman said she needs marijuana to control a host of medical 
conditions, typically vaporizing every 15 to 20 minutes.

"I have quite a high tolerance," she said.

Currently, AHS "is looking at developing a process" for in-hospital 
marijuana use, according to spokesman Don Stewart.

"This is about the balance between patient need and the health and 
safety of other patients, staff and visitors," Stewart said in an 
email. "Negative pressure rooms work best to accommodate this, but 
they may not always be available."

But Kirkman said negative-pressure rooms were rarely available, in 
her experience, and when she attempted to vaporize elsewhere, she was 
physically prevented and ejected from facilities.

In addition to a "Vape Out" protest she and and other 
medical-marijuana licence holders plan to stage at a hospital in 
Calgary on Wednesday, Kirkman has also set out on a hunger strike, 
pledging to remain on a clear-liquid diet until AHS changes its position.

"The law says I am allowed to use my vaporizer in any public 
facility," she said. "There needs be a medical reason (to prevent 
me), not just some arbitrary, reefer-madness thing."

She noted her son, Noah Kirkman, is also a medical marijuana licence 
holder and regularly vaporizes at Western Canada High School, where 
special accommodations have been made for his consumption.

"Why is it, that a few blocks away at Sheldon Chumir (Health Centre), 
that same kid can't use that same vaporizer?" she said.

- - with files from Jeremy Nolais
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom