Shoppers Drug Mart and Loblaws recently made headlines by announcing they will cover medical cannabis for their employees. But the devil is always in the details. While these two chains should be praised for their progressive steps forward, we also need to ask who this coverage is provided for, how much is being covered, as well as how this fits with the overall long-term strategy to position pharmacies as the front-line dispensers of medical cannabis.
While to some extent, I believe homeowners should have some say in what happens in their rental properties, this needs to be balanced with the rights of individuals to grow their cannabis for medical purposes and have access to affordable medicine.
Pot. Dope. Weed. 420. Bud. Doobie. Toke. Even 15 years after marijuana was approved for legal medical use in Canada, the language describing it obscures, conceals and hides. Can cannabis shed its dubious and illicit past so that this compound can be looked at within a medical framework first, and a recreational one second?
The current debate and coverage focuses on legalization and regulation combining the interests of everyone from recreational users to growers to government. Without the interests of patients represented in this debate, we run the risk of establishing a future framework that is set up to fail and will require further modification.
It's hard to tell from the councillor's statement whether he is simply unaware of the rules and Supreme Court ruling, or whether he is choosing to ignore the facts to get media exposure. Either way, it's reckless and unprofessional behaviour for a Toronto city councillor.
Last week we saw the Pharmacy Association weigh in on the future of medicinal cannabis distribution in Canada. They want in now, saying they should be the "front line" in dispensing the drug. It is an interesting reversal from their earlier position on medicinal cannabis, so let's try to understand why.
We've all experienced that annoyance, maybe on the bus, at work, in parks and malls in every corner of the province. Packs of medicinal cannabis users vaping their cannabis, wantonly blowing their cannabis vapour in our faces, laughing at us while they "get high." Call me sheltered, but I have never encountered it.
Wynne has called the new regulations "common sense," and Associate Health Minister Dipika Damerla has stated this "strikes a balance" between the rights of medical cannabis users and other Ontarians, but I fail to see a fair and just consideration of medical cannabis users' rights in the equation.
No matter how you cut it, the market for Licensed Producers in Canada will continue to grow even as some patients choose to be green thumbs. The real economic threat posed by the Court ruling is to those who have been operating outside of the intent and the spirit of the law(s) and who are likely now to be fully exposed.
My only hope is that the eventual regulating bodies take a broader look at public health outcomes, and we fight against a purely commercial cannabis market. We should acknowledge Canada's distinct history when it comes to reform, cannabis policy and medical cannabis.