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The first review of Canada's reformed medical cannabis policy still demonstrates inaccessibility

Sunday, April 15, 2012 by: Raw Michelle
Tags: medical cannabis, Canada, reform

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(NaturalNews) After Ontario courts heard a series of cases concerning cannabis' medical use, federal health advisors formed specific branches to oversee the regulation and accessibility to patients. The court decision makes limited allowances for prescription of cannabis to certain patients. It created the Marihuana Medical Access Division and the Marihuana Medical Access Regulations to oversee the changes.

The use of prescription medical cannabis in Ontario has been legal for just over a decade, and assessments of the program's execution and the degree to which patients needs are being met have been limited. In 2012, a study was conducted and published in the Harm Reduction Journal that was designed to look into patients' experiences of the health care they were receiving, and specifically, how the changes to Canada's medical cannabis policy impacted their treatment.

If it's legal, why are they still getting their medication supplied illegally?

The study employed a brief survey to determine the general focus of the individual's experiences, and then matched them with a more specifically targeted set of questions for a more in-depth interview; cannabis is prescribed for a very wide range of illnesses and symptoms. The study found that 66 percent of the users grew their own cannabis, suggesting that the regulation was still keeping the medicine inaccessible, especially when doctors who are unwilling to prescribe the medication are the only gatekeepers.

The courts initially found the pre-existing law unconstitutional for this reason. Giving patients legal permission to use the drug, but refusing to prescribe it, effectively made the patients resort to illegal activity, defeating the purpose of legal regulation. Half of all users have turned to unregulated compassion clubs instead. These dispensaries provide medical cannabis to over 30,000 patients across Canada. They also provide their customers with a greatly valued sense of safety and support by not forcing them to resort to hunting down dodgy suppliers, and by assuring them of a regular supply and a variety of strain choices. Of the participants, 90 percent said that the different strains had different effects, and that the choice was very important to them.

Something to work on

Just under half of all the medical cannabis users that were studied had tried the cannabis that is available from Health Canada by prescription, but unfortunately, three quarters of them rated the quality as being very poor. On a rating scale from 1-10, 75 percent of users rated the proffered cannabis from doctors and pharmacies as a one or two. No one rated it as a nine or 10. The overwhelming majority of participants reported being completely dissatisfied with the program's efficacy. These results are very important because they inform administrators that the adaptations made to the drug regulation policy are still not meeting the needs of many patients in need. The example provided by the compassion clubs may be used to set a standard for patient-centered care.

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About the author:
Raw Michelle is a natural health blogger and researcher, sharing her passions with others, using the Internet as her medium. She discusses topics in a straight forward way in hopes to help people from all walks of life achieve optimal health and well-being. She has authored and published hundreds of articles on topics such as the raw food diet and green living in general. >>> Click here to see more by Michelle

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