'A second lease on life': 420 in Regina equal parts party and protest

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'A second lease on life': 420 in Regina equal parts party and protest

'A second lease on life': 420 in Regina equal parts party and protest

A protest was set to go from Victoria Park to the steps of the Legislative Building to protest the recent raids on six Regina dispensaries. 

Only problem is, the protest didn't make it out of Victoria Park, let alone the two kilometres to the Leg.

Claudet LeJour, the organizer of the proposed rally, said she has been using medicinal marijuana since March of 2017 after being in a car crash.

"Without it I can barely walk. I use a cane," she said.

'A second lease on life'

Liam Philson was in Victoria park on Friday. He had planned to take part in the march to the Leg but when that plan fell through he decided to stay in the park.

With thick clouds of smoke, people riding bikes and music being played around the cenotaph in Victoria Park, over 100 people came to enjoy both 420 and seemingly the first actual day of Spring.

Since 2017 Philson said he has been using medicinal marijuana to treat his stomach issues. His symptoms were so drastic that he would vomit each morning when he woke up. Smoking cannabis would relieve him of his symptoms long enough to sleep.

"I kind of felt like my life was taken from me. You kind of think 'can I go on like this?'" he said. 

"If you're waking up sick every morning, in lots of pain, you almost wonder can I go on? But it's really given me a second lease on life and I really do appreciate my doctor listening to  me and taking my symptoms seriously."

In March of this year Regina Police Service raided six businesses illegally selling cannabis and cannabis products. LeJour said that the closure of the dispensaries made it harder for some people to access medicinal cannabis. 

​Bryan Salte, associate registrar and legal counsel for the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan, said the raids should not have affected people with medicinal marijuana prescriptions.

In fact, he said people with a prescription would be able to have their products sent directly to them through the mail from any licensed producer in Canada. 

"I would be very surprised if there is any shortage right now of medical cannabis," said Salte. 

Philson said that he used to go to Grass Station in Regina until it willingly closed. 

"I order online now and honestly it's a lot better for me," he said. "At first I was opposed to the dispensaries being closed but I saw how much money I saved and it's really reliable. So I'm actually kind of in favour the online thing."

To order online the system is far more thorough than Philson thought it would be. Despite having a prescription from his doctor there were additional steps he needed to take. 

Doctor's orders

Salte said the doctor actually prescribing the marijuana is an important step that could have been overlooked at some dispensaries. 

"I can't go in to my doctors office and say 'I think I'm sick. I need an antibiotic' and expect I get to dictate whether I get the antibiotic or not," said Salte. 

"Similarly I don't think I can expect to go into my doctors office and say 'I think that I need medical marijuana' if the medical judgment of the physician is that that's not an appropriate treatment for my condition."

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan has not taken a stance on medicinal cannabis and its benefits or viability as a way to treat certain ailments. However, the College does have a stance on most other forms of medical treatment. 

He said there is little evidence to point as to how many people are using it, which patients are asking for it, why people being are prescribed or rejected and how well it treats ailments. Tracking the efficacy of marijuana as a treatment method can be quite difficult for one main reason—money.

"For any other drug a drug company will spend an enormous amount of money developing the drug and will then have an exclusive right to market the drug if it's approved by Health Canada," said Salte.

"There's no financial incentive to actually go through the kind of rigorous assessment that other drugs are subject to."