Pubdate: Mon, 19 Dec 2016
Source: Sun Times, The (Owen Sound, CN ON)
Copyright: 2016 Owen Sound Sun Times
Author: Scott Dunn
Page: A1


Big difference between healers and dealers, people at weekend event
near Meaford hear

This was not your ordinary cooking class.

Barb Mahy was making her basic "canna chocolates," a simple mix of
semi-sweet chocolate, coconut butter and a cannabis tincture mix with
glycerine and water which she melted and poured into moulds.

About a dozen people sat at tables and chairs to watch the
demonstration Saturday upstairs in The Barn, a wellness co-operative
in a refurbished barn along Highway 26 between Meaford and Thornbury.
Along with 20 vendors and five practitioners, the co-op has an
education mandate fulfilled with events like this.

Barb's husband Rob, a tall cannabis evangelical with long grey hair
and his own story of how the cannabis worked wonders on his broken
back, told the group he and others aim to help suffering through
"education and respect," not smoking up and getting high.

"And remember this, there's a big difference between healers and

The Mahys are among the founding members of MEND, short for Mother
Earth's Natural Design, an educational self-help group that shares
information and know-how about medical uses of marijuana.

Some uncounted number of the 1,000 members have licences to possess
marijuana and in some cases, to grow it, founding member Fred Harris

Group members know the different strains of the plant and how to
carefully extract the active ingredients. They share information
through Facebook and in cooking classes all over Ontario.

And they never call it marijuana, for the negative connotations that
carries. They use plants low in THC (the high-producing ingredient in
pot) but rich in CBD or cannabidiol, whose recognized therapeutic
properties include painkilling and anti-inflammation. The group
members don't sell products and they offer their advice freely.

Sherry Snider is a retired oncology nurse who has licences to possess
and grow cannabis. She was hit by a car in her youth and suffered for
most of her life with knee pain as a result. She is allergic to
opioids and most anti-inflammatory drugs, she said.

She walked with a cane for 15 years until April, when she started
rubbing "canna butter" on her knees, which otherwise needed to be
replaced. She also eats cannabis. The drug "reduced the swelling, it
reduced the pain . . . and I am walking around fairly normally."

She has taken the use of cannabis a step further and rubs it on
melanoma spots on her chest, she told the meeting.

There were other attestations made at the meeting about using pot --
on Parkinson's sufferers, insomniacs, as an alternative to traditional
prostate cancer treatments, even lame horses and dogs benefit, Rob
Mahy said -- by administering low THC, high CBD cannabis.

One visitor quizzed the MEND representatives about how to go about
using cannabis as medicine rather than recreationally. The group
members said they would help her get her licences and guide her in how
to make her own medicine. Barb Mahy said she couldn't buy their supplies.

Rob Mahy held up small tubs of cannabis ordered from commercial
distributors, which he derided for not being left in its pure,
unadulterated form. It's sold only "to put another Bimmer in the
parking lot," he said, railing against the commercialization of the
product. "It's about cash."

Better to grow the strain which works best for you, and make the
medicine yourself, he said.

But getting medical marijuana licences isn't easy, Mahy said with
growing indignation. "And there are very few doctors in this area that
know anything about it. So how can we get, without a licence, to heal
if you can't even get a doctor that knows?

"We have to drive people all the way to Toronto, just to get them
started through this program, paperwork and malarky and it creates so
much anxiety for people that we finally decided this is Meaford.
Around here, we do it for ourselves.

"We help our friends and family and we are going to continue to do it
. . ." which brought a "Here! Here!" from Gary Pallister, a man at the
back of the room who was credited with helping Mahy with his back by
sharing cannabis tincture seven years ago.

Pallister said in an interview he spent six months under house arrest
as part of a conditional sentence after he was charged in 2009 with
illegal production, possession for the purpose of trafficking and
simple possession of marijuana. His case included an appeal to the
Supreme Court of Canada, which was dismissed.

If not everyone has a licence, where do people get the marijuana? That
question went mostly unanswered during the meeting. "I would guess
most of the product comes from Crown land," Snider said when asked.

That may change to some degree for medicinal users in the

Last week, the federal government's advisory committee on the
regulated legal access to marijuana presented more than 80
recommendations before the drug is made legal for recreational use
this spring, in keeping with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's election
campaign promise.

The committee recommends allowing people 18 years and older to possess
up to 30 grams of non-medical pot and grow up to four plants per
residence or if they wish, buy it in a storefront or by mail order, to
displace the illicit market for pot.

Rob Mahy offered faint praise for the federal government's intentions,
which he believes are focussed on the recreational pot user. But he
allowed the recommendations "are all basically beneficial to allowing
us to make up our own minds about what we do."

Pallister called it "wonderful" but said the recommendation would have
been better if six plants could be grown instead of four.

Snider expressed concern that the government's focus on pot for people
who smoke it to get high, which she said negates many positive
medicinal properties in the process, will make it difficult to access
the plant varieties with low psychoactive ingredient levels.

She believes there will still be a licensing system for medical uses
of marijuana, regardless of what happens to the changes to laws for
recreational use.

"What the committee report is going to help us with is easier access
for people who need medical edibles," she said.
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MAP posted-by: Matt