Pubdate: Wed, 04 Jan 2017
Source: Goderich Signal-Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Goderich Signal-Star
Author: Scott Dunn
Page: 10

Referenced: A Framework for the Legalization and Regulation of Cannabis in
Canada - The Final Report of the Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and


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 h e a l e r s and

The Mahys are among the founding members o f 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 said.

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.

T h e r e we r e o t h e r 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 spring.

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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