Pubdate: Fri, 25 Apr 2014
Source: Meaford Independent, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2014 The Meaford Independent
Author: Stephen Vance


The recent changes to the rules regarding medical marijuana in Canada
are a bit of a mixed bag from a patient perspective. Where previously
patients were permitted to grow their own medicine, under the new
scheme patients must destroy their plants and begin purchasing their
medication from large-scale, government-regulated producers. That
change, if it holds - a court challenge is currently underway - would
mean significant cost increases for the nearly 40,000 Canadians who
use medical marijuana to treat medical conditions.

On the other hand, communities like Meaford are in a perfect position
to benefit from the new production and distribution structure
established by our Conservative government.

When it comes to economic development, Meaford has found that our
location - a little too far away from the super-highways to the south,
or our lack of support industries and services, can be a hindrance.
For the medical marijuana industry however, Meaford is a nearly
perfect community to host such a facility.

What a medical marijuana production facility needs is some land, and
an empty building. Meaford has plenty of both. That Meaford's council
is being proactive in having staff study the requirements for this new
industrial opportunity in Canada, and to establish the various
policies that are required in order to allow a facility to exist in
Meaford while ensuring that the community is protected, could make
Meaford even more appealing for a medical marijuana producer to set up

Depending on the size, a medical marijuana production facility could
employ dozens of people in an area that is desperate for well-paying
jobs. And the potential growth in the industry is certainly very
appealing with medical marijuana being possibly just the beginning.

Many states to the south of us have decriminalized the possession of
marijuana, removing the infraction from one that is criminally
prosecuted to one that is simply handled with a ticket and a small
fine. Additionally, two states have completely legalized recreational
marijuana, and many other states are considering moving in the same
direction. In Canada, the federal Conservatives have even suggested
that they are willing to listen to the advice of police chiefs from
across the nation who agree that marijuana possession should be, at
the least, decriminalized.

This shift in policy across the continent has been driven in part by
those who use medical marijuana. Cancer patients experiencing nausea,
AIDS patients needing appetite stimulation, insomniacs looking for
better quality sleep, chronic pain sufferers seeking to better control
their pain, have put a new face on marijuana users. Heading off into
the sunset are the stereotypes of laid back hippie-types getting a
buzz from the evil marijuana plant. The new face of marijuana users
looks an awful lot like the grandmother next door, or the construction
worker up the block, or the police officer around the corner.

The new face of marijuana is a former provincial Health Minister
teaming up with Toronto's former Deputy Police Chief along with a
pharmacist making an application to establish a marijuana production

The tide is turning, and what will start off as production of
marijuana for patients, could very likely explode into a much larger
industry with a much larger customer base as states and provinces
gradually move to full legalization.

So in these early days of a budding industry, Meaford is in a perfect
position to court a facility. But there is another way that Meaford is
in a perfect position to make a positive impact.

There are many people in this community who use marijuana for medical
purposes. And while a community like Meaford could benefit from the
new regulations for medical marijuana production, patients in this
community, just as in every community across the country, will be
negatively impacted should the right to grow some amount of medicine
at home not be retained.

For some their prescription might call for just a couple of grams of
marijuana each day, in which case the shift from growing your own to
purchasing from a government-regulated private producer wouldn't be
overly unmanageable for most. Based on the prices listed by Canada's
newest medical marijuana producers, that patient would need to cough
up between $150 and $300 per month. Expensive yes, but worth it for
the patient.

Some patients, though, use 10 or 15 grams or more each day to treat
their conditions. At an average price of $10 per gram on Canadian
websites, that patient would need to come up with $4,500 per month -
where under the old rules they could have grown the medicine
themselves for a few hundred dollars each month.

Part of Meaford's soon to be established policies for medical
marijuana producers should be a requirement for compassionate pricing
for those on low or fixed incomes. Many of the newly approved
producers in Canada are already doing this.

Even better for patients across the country would be for Meaford to
make it a policy to lobby the federal government in support of
patients in their need to be able to grow at least some of their own

It is certainly a positive that a new industry is forming in Canada,
however we can't let the federal government forget that it is medical
marijuana, which means the consumer is a patient, and patients
shouldn't have to go broke or suffer without when they could grow
their medicine right beside their cucumbers. Let's not lose focus on
the patients.
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