A Canadian crackdown on compassion clubs in Quebec has backfired, according to some doctors and medical marijuana patients. Many have been forced to turn to the black market to get their cannabis after police last week in Montreal and Quebec City raided and shut down five compassion clubs and arrested 35 people.
Canada’s federal government offers only one strain of medical marijuana, and the only legal way to purchase government pot is through Health Canada, reports CBC News
Not only is government cannabis of questionable quality; the process is complicated and the wait is often lengthy, according to some patients.
As a result, more and more Canadian medical marijuana patients are now buying their cannabis illegally.
|Medical marijuana patient Janet McDougal said she will have to return to a cocktail of harsh pharmaceutical drugs to treat her multiple sclerosis
Janet McDougal of Montreal has depended on her compassion club for cannabis to help her treat her multiple sclerosis.
The club where McDougal obtained pot for more than a decade has now been closed, due to last week’s police raids. When her current supply of marijuana runs out, she will have to return to a cocktail of harsh pharmaceutical drugs that leave her feeling like a “zombie,” McDougal said.
McDougal said the compassion club she used had stringent measures in place, and would only accept doctors’ prescriptions.
“I cant even go in there with a friend, that is how secure it is,” she said.
It will take several months for her to get approval for a medical marijuana license from Health Canada to start using pot legally, she said.
The marijuana helped relieve her MS pain to the point that she no longer is forced to use a wheelchair, McDougal said. Cannabis also helped restore her appetite.
“It is like I have a new lease on life,” McDougal said. “I feel like I’m coming out of a coma.”
|Dr. Mark Ware: “There are going to be a lot of patients suffering as a result of this”
Dr. Mark Ware, associate medical director of McGill University Health Centre Pain Clinic, said McDougal is just one of hundreds of patients affected by the raids.
“My first real gut reaction was, ‘My God, there are going to be a lot of patients suffering as a result of this,'” Dr. Ware said.
While Dr. Ware said he tells all his patients that the only legal way to get pot is through Health Canadas, some of his patients find their symptoms respond better to certain strains of the drug which aren’t available through the government.
“I hope that Health Canada will go back and rethink this program of having a single supply and a single strain [of marijuana],” Dr. Ware said.
The clubs also provide patients with better service and information than they could obtain through Health Canada, the doctor said.
Police claim last week’s raids were undertaken because some of the clients at the compassion clubs were getting marijuana without federal authorization from Health Canada, which constitutes illegal drug trafficking.