Medical marijuana user blasts proposed rules

A Nova Scotia woman with multiple sclerosis is worried that proposed rules for medical marijuana mean it will be more difficult and expensive to get the drug.

Under a new federal proposal, Debbie Stultz-Giffin and other people with prescriptions for medical marijuana would no longer be allowed to grow their own drug or have someone do it for them.

Instead, they would have to buy their pot from a federally registered grower. Those companies would sell it for $8.80 cents a gram, far above the current range of $1.80 to $5.

Stultz-Giffin, who has a licence to use medical marijuana, gets her pot for free from a donor. She uses 12 grams a day, so she would have to spend more than $3,000 a month under the proposed system.

"It's absolutely appalling to think that the federal government would put politics and profits ahead of patients. And it's striking terror, literally, in the hearts of thousands of patients across this country," she told CBC News.

Doctors are speaking out against the proposal too.

Dr. Anna Reid, with the Canadian Medical Association, said the federal government is abdicating its responsibility to regulate a drug.

"Really, it's akin to asking us doctors to write prescriptions while being blindfolded," Reid said.

The proposed changes come on the heels of a highly publicized bust in Halifax of an alleged medical marijuana ring. Police seized 20.5 kilograms of dried marijuana and 2,207 plants.

Stultz-Giffin said it's those kinds of stories that leave Health Canada with a bad impression of medical marijuana users.

"It certainly doesn't seem fair to jeopardize the health and well being of the 22,000, 23,000 others of us who haven't been abusing the program," she said.

The federal government will accept comments on the proposed new rules over the next few months.

"I think over the next year and a half with the programs being changed you're going to see a lot of patient groups and patients really lobbying to keep their personal growing rights," said John Zorychta with All Things Green, which connects patients with suppliers of medical marijuana.

The federal government plans to implement the changes by March 2014.

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