Barriers still stand in the way of Canadian medical marijuana patients

Published Nov 1, 2020 02:00 p.m. ET
iStock / HighGradeRoots

If you reside in Canada and you’ve noticed that there is a severe shortage of medical dispensaries, you’re not alone, as this country’s broad legalization of the plant seemed to replace the need for such stores. Of course, any medical marijuana patient knows that this isn’t the case because there are some significant benefits for those who use the plant for medicinal purposes when they’re buying through a trustworthy health-focused dispensary. Medical Cannabis Canada wanted to highlight this by revealing the number of people who have a difficult time accessing these types of businesses.

The Medical Cannabis Patient Canada survey

Medical Cannabis Canada surveyed close to 1000 medical marijuana patients to find out where they go to obtain their much-needed medicine. What they discovered is that there are systematic barriers that are in the way for the majority status, which should be buying through the legal, medical market. Their results revealed that only 37% of people surveyed were in receipt of a medical marijuana card or prescription, and a mere 24% of whom refused to consult with a doctor before starting their treatments.

57% of patients admitted to struggling with finding a doctor who agreed with using cannabis for their symptoms, and an incredible 83% claim that they are still experiencing discrimination based on a stigma that medical professionals continue to hold. Despite plenty of evidence that it works and in many cases, better than the pharmaceutical options they’re willing to offer.

Another incredibly important barrier that needs to be addressed is the fact that once a medical marijuana card or prescription is finally received, the only way for patients to buy their medicine is through approved vendors that all ship cannabis products through the mail. In many cases, these packages come at a cost that is competitive with recreational dispensaries until you take into consideration the amount of excise duty and provincial taxes that are added.

Unjust treatment

For patients to utilize this mail-in service, they need to pay well in advance of needing to refill their prescriptions, and it can often take weeks before they receive anything to give them relief. If we were to treat any other type of life-saving medicine this way, it would be viewed as barbaric and unjust, and yet, we continue to force medicinal patients who can’t afford to wait, to choose a less than the ideal alternative. Driving the majority to the recreational market, that is typically designed to cater to recreational users.


A call for a better system

After calculating the number of patients who are gravely impacted by this terrible system for medicinal products, Medical Cannabis Canada is calling for necessary changes that include things like improved accessibility. More effective distribution through licensed pharmacies, and better access to experts who are knowledgeable and capable of providing advice that can be effective for patients who need relief.

To do all of that, we’re going to need to open real brick and mortar stores so that Canadians can go in person when they need their medicine and leave with everything that their doctor or consultant recommended. It is essential where health is concerned that the country maintains a fair and just system that is equal across the board for all consumers and not just the ones who reside in more lenient provinces.

We still have a long way to go before patients are finally able to have fair access to this all-natural drug. However, with organizations like Medical Cannabis Canada bringing these issues to light, it’s only a matter of time before the dream becomes a reality for millions of Canadians who rely on the safe relief this plant can provide.

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