Federal laws could force patients into the illegal drug trade, says MUMM member
© Heather Killen
Debbie Stultz-Giffin is breathing easier this week thanks to a court injunction that halts federal laws that prohibit licensed medical marijuana users from growing their own medicine.
By Heather Killen
Cannabis activists have some breathing room before Health Canada changes the way they can access medical marijuana.
Debbie Stultz-Giffen, of Maritimers Unite for Medical Marijuana Society, says she is hopeful about a recent court injunction that grants a temporary reprieve from new laws that would change patients’ access to medical marijuana.
“It’s been a rough ride,” the Annapolis County woman said early last week. “From coast to coast, there’s a real sense of relief.”
Last year Health Canada announced that it would no longer accept applications for marijuana production licenses from private individuals. According to the legislation, as of March 31, the production of marijuana in private dwellings is illegal.
Anyone who requires marijuana for medical purposes must purchase it directly from a licensed commercial grower. Cannabis activists challenged this legislation and won licensed patients a temporary reprieve.
Stultz-Giffen is hoping the injunction will buy patients time and force the law on the back burner indefinitely. The last several months have been a roller coaster ride, she says, bringing back memories of the bad days when she was classified as a criminal.
In 1999, she remembers how police helicopters routinely buzzed her house and how the police searched through her house.
“My children were with me, my youngest son wanted to go in the other room and get a puzzle, but the police officer wouldn’t allow it,” she said. “He stood in the doorway with his arms crossed and I was supposed to act like it was just a normal day.”
She added the laws have eased since 1999 when she was first fighting for her license, but the stigma surrounding medical marijuana continues and many people treat patients who use marijuana as drug dealers and criminals.
Stultz-Giffen says forcing patients to buy from commercial growers is a move that will generate new money for big business and the government at the expense of chronically ill patients.
“We should change the name from Health Canada to Wealth Canada,” she said. “It’s a billion dollar industry.”
Health insurance doesn’t cover medical marijuana and patients are often living on limited incomes, so dollars quickly add up. Had the injunction failed, Stultz-Giffen says she would have been forced to buy her marijuana from the black market, or grow it herself illegally.
“We can grow it for pennies a gram, where they charge $12 a gram,” she said. “Chronically ill people have enough to worry about without wondering how they will keep their homes and families in tact, it’s ridiculous.”