ALBERTA

Lisa Kirkman Fights To Use Medical Marijuana In Alberta Hospitals

01/07/2014 07:42 EST | Updated 01/23/2014 08:17 EST
Facebook/Lisa Kirkman

A medical marijuana user in Calgary says she has been denied access to medical treatment because of a ban on pot vaporizers she claims is currently in effect in Alberta hospitals.

Lisa Kirkman says a recent internal memo at Alberta Health Services (AHS) banned the use of medical marijuana in hospitals, a practice that was previously allowed.

She's had doctors' appointments cancelled and been denied access to hospitals when 911 calls were made, because facilities refuse to accept her, she told The Huffington Post Alberta.

Kirkman suffers from severe chronic pain and a blood disorder and needs to use medical marijuana constantly.

"It's like AIDS in the early 80s," she says about the stigma around medical marijuana use. "Doctors dropping patients... Everyone's in a panic."

Kirkman went on hunger strike on Jan. 3 and is only consuming clear fluids.

"Either way, I'm suffering, but I would rather suffer so the public knows about it," she says.

Kirkman—who is also organizing a protest at an undisclosed AHS facility on Wednesday—posted to Facebook alleging that an internal AHS memo sent on Nov. 4 "essentially shut down services for all patients who require the use of a cannabis vaporizer."

An AHS spokesperson contacted by The Huffington Post Alberta denied the claim, saying that all patients receive the care they need, when they need it.

"AHS is looking at developing a process to support patients who are treated with medical marijuana in our facilities," they said.

"Vaporizers have not been banned from AHS facilities," they said in an e-mail, adding, “This is about the balance between patient need and the health and safety of other patients, staff and visitors."

But Kirkman insists there has never been any question raised about the necessity of the medication for her, nor have any alternative treatment options been offered.

"This is not a case of a doctor arguing with the fact that I need to [use] a medical cannabis vaporizer."

Kirkman's 15-year-old son is also a medical marijuana user and special arrangements have been made at Western Canada High School to accommodate him, she told Metro News.

“Why is it, that a few blocks away at Sheldon Chumir (Health Centre), that same kid can’t use that same vaporizer?” she said.

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