Pubdate: Fri, 21 Apr 2017
Source: Enterprise-Bulletin, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017, Collingwood Enterprise Bulletin
Author: JT McVeigh
Page: A1


After the federal government's announcement concerning legalizing
recreational use of cannabis, more than a couple of old hippies have
been buzzing.

Everyone has an opinion on it, from ethics professors to economic
prognosticators. It would appear the broad green leaf that has been
demonized for almost a century has coming back into favour.

Not to say the medical use of the product hasn't been grabbing
attention in the past five years, outside the realm of popular culture.

More and more people in the medical profession are agreeing cannabis
is a safer substitute to opioids for the treatment of a number of
maladies and pain management.

Locally, for The Barn Co-operative Network's speaker series that is
held on weekends near Thornbury, probably the most interest they
receive in any programs they host concerns medical cannabis.

In fact, three workshops are being held this month covering topics
such as treating chronic pain and growing your own cannabis medicine.

Richard Gillman knows a lot about the medical application of cannabis.
He is a consultant, a trainer and a client and has been developing his
own seed bank.

He said legalizing marijuana is a giant step in de-stigmatizing a
plant that has been misunderstood.

Although Gillman doesn't have an opinion on recreational use, he has
seen the benefits of the use of medical cannabis, first at his work at
Dr. Linda Morel's medical cannabis clinic, Mind, Body, Spirit
Connection, in Collingwood, but now as he is a technical adviser for
the parent clinic, Canadian Cannabis, as well as developing his own
seed bank.

"Canadian Cannabis latched on to what I am pretty knowledgeable
(about), so they put me on in-bound phone calls, answering technical
questions and facilitating patients with directing them how to get
into the system and so on," said Gillman.

"I am doing grow consulting, and my seed bank is growing like crazy,
so it's really busy. And, of course, Dr. Linda's clinic is growing and
we are seeing that the community is really embracing it."

The effort is anything but recreational. The patients Gillman talks
with are just trying to find relief. The talks he has given at places
like The Barn have been packed.

"A big thing that I am finding on the phone now (is) people are
recognizing that opioids are dangerous, they're harmful, they are
causing more damage than good and that they are willing to explore
something that they realize is natural," said Gillman. "There is a
paradigm shift on now. People who had been brought up to be against
cannabis are realizing that, even though they may harbour some of
those feelings, they understand that cannabis is the lesser of two
evils and that pharmaceuticals are much more dangerous (and can) have
addictive properties."

THC is just the main cannabinoid; BCD is second, but there are about
83 other cannabinoids that exist is different levels. Gillman explained.

Most of the cannabinoids are minute, so they are not discussed much,
but in the few studies that have taken place, they have found that
some have huge benefits for specific conditions.

"There are breeders right now who are doing hybrids and crosses to try
and bring out these cannabinoids in higher percentages," said Gillman.
"In 10 years from now, they will have bred plants and brought them to
the point where you can get a plant that has higher percentages to
treat some of these medical conditions."

As with every emerging industry, trends are beginning to develop. One
Gillman hears about frequently is the desire for patients to grow
their own plants - one reason being that, in several cases, either
through demand or industry recalls, licensed dispensaries cannot keep
up with demand.

"The other thing is that, because there is no coverage for the most
part, price plays a role. People are starting to realize that growing
their own is much more cost effective," said Gillman. "You also have
full control over what you produce."

Gillman can see a cultural shift, especially as the result of the
federal legislation.

"Again, I think that in 10 years, growing your own is going to be
commonplace, like it is in California, where I think every household
can have four plants."

Oddly, selling seeds in Canada is legal, though germination is only
legal if you have your own Health Canada grow permit.

"The seed bank, for me, started as a grassroots thing ... Some of the
cannabinoids are very valuable, so people asked why are the
dispensaries are not able to supply this," said Gillman.

In the short term, while legislation is being debated, Gillman warns
patients to stay away from neighbourhood dispensaries.

"There is no question, from a legal perspective, that the dispensaries
are not legal. There's a huge amount of confusion. Legal permit
holders have to know that by going to a dispensary, they are doing
something illegal," said Gillman. "Patients can lose their
(prescription) and their right to use. Plus, they can be charged with
possession because it is an illegal substance."

Also, he said, the products from dispensaries are not always

"There have been a few recalls, and that's happened because of the
stringent quality control that Health Canada does," he said. "In
dispensaries, you have no idea if it has been grown in somebody's
mouldy basement or if it has been fed really horrible nutrients to
stimulate quick growth. You have no idea what you are getting, You
don't know the percentage of cannabinoids - 5% THC or 25%."

"So, it's a crapshoot."
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