We bring forward the evidence needed to discuss provincial management, and offer effective inexpensive and healthier solutions that complement the transitioning federal program. This new design really only changed the economics of cannabis distribution, while excluding the people who need to benefit from the medicine, turning it into a product.
The Medical Marihuana Production Regulations that come into effect on March 31 2014, will remove the right by policy, of 40,000 patients on fixed incomes or in various stages of chronic illness or end of life care, to stop growing in their legal gardens. (They will be expected to destroy what they feel is saving their life.) Thousands of people, some patients and some who are privately and compassionately growing for patients who cannot grow their own medicine, will be arrested in our communities. This will be paid for by our community policing budgets. It will create a burden on our local healthcare systems, as well as our Social services as families are put into distress. This will be caused by a policy change, that in reality is about money and monopoly of a medicine, not regulation and increased medical access.
I raise this point because, in no place in this new program is there any consideration for a patients financial ability to cover their own healthcare, while the rest of the country is accessing medical coverage in favour of pharmaceutical treatments. There was no risk involved in patient gardens. There are risks involved in the black market. Patients are not involved in the black market. Patients are growing and doing whatever they can to stay alive and healthy.
We all know there is a black market. I do not suggest that some people have not abused their prescription growing rights. Some of these abuses were indeed contributing to the black market, however most patients have seen the stigma attached to cannabis, for too long. They are not interested in sharing that they use this as medicine, most don’t even tell those closest to them. Of course many people enjoy it, it is most often a pleasurable experience, why wouldn’t they. We have the ability to enjoy a beer in this country also, not everyone is a bootlegger or abuser.
The System is how we the people are informed of what is available to us. From human rights to dental coverage, to restrictions and barriers, we must learn to negotiate this in order to have our needs met. We pay our taxes, most attend regular doctor’s appointments, pay our bills, and do our best to put food on the tables for our families. We follow the set of regulations dictating conduct in our society, until it becomes dangerous to us. The law is not intended to put anyone in harm’s way. Laws are not created to do harm in themselves. So, we must learn to negotiate the legislation causing the harm and have it changed in a way that works for all, not some.
This can be done through a provincial management of Cannabis medicines in the following ways.
The administration and delivery of health care services is the responsibility of each province or territory, guided by the provisions of the Canada Health Act. The provinces and territories fund these services with assistance from the federal government in the form of fiscal transfers. The inclusion of cannabis medicines in the Formulary will increase access for our entire provincial population. The inclusion of continued personal production that is inspected and regulated is far less expensive.
Health care services include insured primary health care (such as the services of physicians and other health professionals) and care in hospitals, which account for the majority of provincial and territorial health expenditures. Through education and research we have learned of the essential nature of our endocannabinoid system. We must recognize and train our medical practitioners and reflect that in our requirements for medical practice. We must ensure that patients best interests are protected in the development of policy around cannabis in front line care. We must ensure access to the ability to make our medicine into healthier and more effective forms of administration. We must provide protection from the ignorance of the traditional western medical establishment; recognize that cannabis is one of the oldest, most effective, and least invasive forms of treatment for many illnesses, while ensuring there is a regulated quality control. The provinces and territories also provide some groups with supplementary health benefits not covered by the Act, such as prescription drug coverage. Here is an example of a budget that exists for just this issue in Ontario.
Affordability is a factor we cannot get around. So either we pay for it in our healthcare, or we request a section 56 for the province of Ontario to accept the download of the medical cannabis program. The alternative to not pre-emptively managing this situation is paying for it through our taxes with policing, housing inmates, court expense, social services, as well as the destruction of lives of thousands of people and their families.
This is how it becomes downloaded to the municipalities also. Every city has tax paying citizens, who pay for a large percentage of the local policing budget. Our taxes go up to the top and trickle back down through transfers. What the police require to do their jobs, is based on current legislation, whether harmful or not. Current legislation is based on political relationships and aren’t always in the best interests of the people paying for them. Current policies around cannabis are an example of this.
I am not talking about anything but medical need here. Personal beliefs remain the right of the holder, however one must recognize that others also have personal beliefs, therefor they must also be considered. Speaking to the belief that cannabis should be accessible as medicine for those who need it, we have worked to educate government, healthcare providers and our communities alike, of the benefits of a provincial managed medical cannabis program.