Pubdate: Wed, 07 Feb 2018
Source: Daily Courier, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2018 The Okanagan Valley Group of Newspapers
Author: Darrin LR Fiddler
Page: A7


Dear editor: If cannabis legalization gets any more costly, we may
need to revert back to the black market model. At least then, patients
needn't struggle to get their medication. The current victims of the
legalization effort are the dispensaries, and with them the patients.

They filled a gap left when the government permitted medical marijuana
in 2001, but left the patient without access to their medication.
Fifteen years later, Neil Allard successfully sued the government for
unduly restricting the access to medical cannabis.

These dispensaries were run illegally, but they didn't hide in the
shadows. They applied to get business licenses, to pay their taxes.
Dispensaries understood the patients' struggle and introduced their
own verification process; it wasn't top-notch, but it got the meds to
the patient.

The truly effective plant cannot contain contaminating residue. Most
dispensaries were vigilant in providing organic cannabis, untainted by
chemicals. They built up a knowledge base matching strains to
conditions. They gained the trust of their patients.

With the announcement of legalization for adult use came draconian
enforcement demanding closure of these dispensaries. The authorities
justified this by claiming that the medical marijuana system was in
place so the patient could access their medication. Here, their
argument crumbles. As dispensaries were shut down, the patient either
resorts to a street dealer selling an unknown quality, or approaches
Health Canada for a script.

This is a major roadblock as the patient must approach their doctor.
The first hurdle for the patient is to get their doctor's consent.
Doctors are wary of talking about cannabis as a medicine. Doing so,
they put their medical licence at risk, thereby muzzled from talking
about what might provide the best relief. In 15 years, this issue has
yet to be addressed.

The government allows the multi-million dollar licensed producers to
only offer mail-order cannabis. If a patient lapses on their refill,
rather than heading to their local dispensary, their relief is at the
mercy of the postal system.

While the previous system skirted the law, it had better results. On
the current landscape, the patient faces the worst consequences. We
can do better. I implore municipal governments to please reconsider
their treatment of dispensaries, acknowledging the harm inflicted on
patients by shutting down their access point.

For further questions, contact me at: Darrin LR Fiddler

COO, Mariceuticals Inc.

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