Pubdate: Wed, 03 Dec 2014
Source: Barrie Examiner (CN ON)
Copyright: 2014, Barrie Examiner
Author: Cheryl Browne
Page: 2


Town hall meeting takes a look at marijuana debate

Elaine Whitfield sat in the audience of the Liberal town hall meeting
with cautious optimism.

Whitfield was one of approximately 50 people who attended the Liberal
party's meeting at 92 Heritage Square earlier this week to discuss the
legalization of marijuana in Canada.

The discussion surrounding medical marijuana and its possible pain-
relieving side-effects for

Whitfield's children means the world to her.

"My one son has a mitochondrial disease, and I just spent the morning
at Sick Kids Hospital with my other two getting tests done. I passed
this on to my children," Whitfield said.

She said the disease that creates dysfunctioning blood cells - causing
epilepsy and chronic muscle degeneration - is hereditary.

Her 22- year-old son, who asked his name not be used, said they're
trying to remain optimistic after the diagnosis earlier this year.
"It's so confusing, I'm trying to cut out everything like alcohol and
caffeine to try to get a handle on it," he said.

But Whitfield wants more assistance from the feds to help her son when
he experiences seizures.

"I need to do it legally. I could grow some ( marijuana) myself, but
it's important to stay on the right side of the law," she said.

However, the legalities of accessing medical marijuana can be a
daunting. Not only do those suff ering from debilitating pain or
sudden seizures require a proper medical diagnosis of their disease,
they must find a doctor who agrees to prescribe a drug that is for the
most part considered illegal.

Justin Whitehall, the medical director of the Simcoe Holistic Health
Centre on Dunlop Street West, believes advocating for a convenient
method of distribution of medical marijuana is the beginning.

At the meeting, Whitehall explained the difference between the
repealed legislation of March 2014 Medical Marijuana Access
Regulations ( MMAR) which allowed approved users the right to grow
their own pot, and the new Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations
( MMPR) that came into eff ect April 1, 2014 are simple.

"With MMAR, people were allowed to grow their own pot and with the new
MMPR, Canada Post delivers it right to your house," Whitehall said.

"The problem is the supply. We need a more convenient way to access
marijuana, like having it dispensed at the pharmacy and not wait for
the mail to be delivered, so people who need it can access it," he

A panel of experts included retired police officer Paul Bailey who
spoke out against legalization, Fleur Ottaway who is attempting to
access medical marijuana to ease both her fibromyalgia and multiple
sclerosis, and Micheline Robichaud, who is fighting for easier access
for her son.

Ottaway said she understands the political hot potato of legalizing -
or at least making medical marijuana more accessible - but after years
of fighting for it, she's glad to at least be able to attend a meeting
on the topic.

"It's a political thing. I can understand doctors don't want to be the
gatekeepers, so it's tough for people like us," Ottaway said. "It was
a very good discussion. We heard a lot of stories about people who
need it and can't get it."

Colin Wilson, a Barrie- Innisfil federal Liberal candidate, said after
the gathering that it was one of several meetings the Grits plan on
holding during the run-up to the 2015 election.

"So many perspectives were coming forward, it was great. This was a
success beyond our imagination," Wilson said.

Adam English, president of the Barrie- Innisfil Federal Liberal
Association, chaired the meeting. He asked those in attendance to vote
on the legalization of marijuana or the public can vote by calling two
phone numbers. ( Yes vote 705- 2301093 or No vote 705- 230- 1094 this
week only).

English said after the votes from Sunday's meeting were tabulated, 85%
said yes to legalization.

"There were zero outright no answers," English said.

He said he didn't receive feedback from all attendees to the

"And granted, it was a biased crowd, but it was an interesting
response to the poll," he said.
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MAP posted-by: Matt