Pubdate: Tue, 12 Jul 2016
Source: London Free Press (CN ON)
Page: A1
Copyright: 2016 The London Free Press
Author: Hank Daniszewski


They don't own a car or a computer. They don't even have a phone.

But when an Old Order Mennonite couple from northern Huron County, 
north of London, needed to control seizures in their six-year old 
daughter, they turned to a form of medical marijuana.

When the hard-to-get cannabis oil medication almost ran out, a London 
clinic scrambled to provide them an alternative supply.

Using medical marijuana may seem like a "stretch" for the 
ultra-traditional religious sect, says one observer at a Mennonite 
liberal arts college in Southwestern Ontario.

The most conservative of Mennonites living in Ontario, marked by 
their dark clothing and the horses and buggies many still rely on, 
Old Order followers eschew modern conveniences and live a lifestyle 
most Canadians gave up in the 19th-century.

But Old Order Mennonites also have a tradition of seeking alternative 
treatments, as well as mainstream medicine, said Marlene Epp, a 
history professor at Conrad Grebel University College at the 
University of Waterloo.

"The use of medical marijuana is new for all of us," Epp said. "If it 
was prescribed and they felt it would help their child, I suspect 
they would go for it."

The Mennonite family got their prescription from Canadian Cannabis 
Clinics on Wharncliffe Road.

The clinic opened in May 2015 and is part of a Toronto-based chain 
that specializes in medical marijuana prescriptions.

Delene Galloway, a registered practical nurse and a counsellor at the 
London clinic, said the family's experience shows Health Canada's 
existing system for ordering medical marijuana can be bottlenecked by 
bureaucracy and doesn't work for communities who don't have access to 
modern technology.

The family - Old Order Mennonites traditionally shun media attention 
- - has a very traditional lifestyle, she said. They declined to 
comment and did not want their name disclosed.

Their six-year-old daughter suffers from severe epileptic seizures 
and their family doctor referred them to the London clinic to get a 
prescription for Cannabidiol, also known as CBD oil, Galloway said.

The oil has almost no THC, the active ingredient in marijuana that 
causes a high, and is mainly used for medicinal purposes such as 
treating seizures, she said.

Under existing law, medical marijuana must be ordered through a list 
of federally-approved suppliers, generally using the Internet and a 
credit card number,

The Cannabidiol was effective in treating the girl's condition, but 
the family had trouble filling refills for the prescription. Galloway 
said Mettrum, the Toronto-based supplier, had some CBD on hand but 
was waiting for Health Canada approval to release the batch to the public.

Meanwhile, the family cut back on the dosage of their dwindling 
supply, until the girl suffered a seizure and had to be hospitalized.

That was a financial hardship for the family, because Old Order 
Mennonites choose to pay for medical care with help from their 
community, even though they pay taxes.

With only a few days of supply left, the desperate family reached out 
to Galloway for help, using a neighbor's phone.

"We had to scurry to find someone who has CBD oil. Not all of the 
suppliers have it and those that do, can't keep up," said Galloway.

Their struggle was made more difficult because the Mennonite family 
had no computer and paid by cheque rather than credit card.

Galloway appealed to the directors of Canadian Cannabis Clinics, who 
rushed the bureaucratic process to find another supplier for the CBD 
oil. The company also paid the cost of the prescription.

Galloway said she was skeptical about medical marijuana when she 
first started working at the clinic, but is now convinced it's effective.

"I hear patients saying 'Thank you,' you gave me life back.' I hear 
that almost every day."

Galloway said it was especially gratifying helping the Mennonite family.

"They're such sweet, gentle people."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom