Opinion Column

THE DUEL

Increases in the cost of pot will hurt those on fixed incomes 0

By Laila Yuile, The Duel

Columnists Laila Yuile and Brent Stafford battle over the issues of the day. The winner of last week’s duel on CCTV cameras was Brent with 58%. 

This week’s topic: Do the changes in Canada's medical marijuana regulations benefit patients?


After researching the topic of medical marijuana for this week’s debate, one thing is clear. Even pot advocates don’t agree on whether or not the new regulations benefit the thousands of patients in Canada who currently use the drug.

While there has been ample discussion about the benefits to the public, the discussion over how, or if, these changes benefit patients who use marijuana doesn’t seem to have been given as much coverage.

Patients who currently use marijuana suffer from a variety of diseases, disorders and injuries. Among them are people with cancer, AIDS/HIV, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and severe arthritis. Marijuana alleviates their pain, nausea and other symptoms without the often harsh and dangerous side effects of narcotic painkillers and drugs more often prescribed by the medical community.

Under the old federal regulations, thousands of patients were allowed to grow their own marijuana under a Health Canada licence to produce it for personal use. On April 1, 2014 they will be expected to turn over their supplies and get rid of their production materials – continuing to grow their own medicine will make them criminals.

Read Brent Stafford's column

This is where many have a big issue, and rightly so. Many patients have developed their own strains that they know specifically work best for them and their symptoms. While an initial investment is made to safely produce their own medicine at home, the costs of doing so once it’s set up are minimal. It’s been reported that the cost of personal-use production of medical marijuana is less than $2 a gram.

After April 1, that cost could increase to whatever the market will bear and some estimate it will be in the range of $7 to $12 a gram, as the licensed producers have to cover not only their overhead, but make a tidy profit.

Even for patients who currently buy from Health Canada at $5 a gram, that’s a hefty increase, in particular when medical marijuana isn’t covered by many health plans. For many patients with chronic diseases or life-altering injuries living on limited incomes, the jump in the price of pot might leave them in the cold.

The new regulations also limit usage to dried product, eliminating other forms such as tinctures and oil — leaving patients who take medical marijuana orally with limited options. The only victory in this new, faulty legislation is for the corporations who stand to make millions.


Laila Yuile is an independent writer, blogger and political commentator. You can read her blog at lailayuile.com.

 

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