OTTAWA - Proposed reforms to the federal government's medical marijuana program would make it illegal for licensed users to grow their own drugs and transfer distribution responsibility to compassion clubs, some pharmacies and other community dispensaries.
But members of the Medicinal Cannabis Patients' Alliance of Canada (MCPAC) say the changes, which are slated to come into effect in 2014, will see the prices rise to more than double the street value and exponentially more than what it costs them to grow it themselves, effectively barring them from the drugs they say they need in order to live without constant pain.
"There are no medical remedies that mean we can live with some level of comfort, other than marijuana," MCPAC member Alexander Daviau said during a press conference with others who will be affected by the changes. "By removing our ability to grow our own, they are setting the price more than twice the street value, which will force some people back to the streets. As of 2014 I won't be able to afford my meds anymore."
Steve Outhouse, communications director for Health Minister Leona Aglukkuq, said while the exact pricing has yet to be seen, "it is logical there would be some increased cost compared to growing your own. But we still want them to be able to get the drugs they need."
Health Canada says the proposed reforms are in response to concerns expressed "by Canadians" about abuses of the medical marijuana program and exploitation by criminal elements. It held online and in-person consultations between June and November last year with firefighters, law enforcement, pharmacists and some compassion clubs.
Everyone but the users themselves, Daviau said.
"Health Canada met the stakeholders, they said, they met with law enforcement," Daviau said. "But they ignored the patients."