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Medical marijuana patients struggle to access pot under federal rules: study

Canada's marijuana laws, medical marijuana, Health Canada, Access to mediciation
Photo credit: Kottonmouth Kings

VANCOUVER — A University of British Columbia study suggests medical marijuana patients are struggling to access cannabis under current regulations and many are turning to the black market.

The study, led by UBC nursing Prof. Lynda Balneaves and PhD student Rielle Capler, looks at the impact of shifting federal regulations on patient access to medical pot.

Capler says about one third of 450 patients surveyed in the national study reported they could not access medical marijuana legally under the federal rules and were buying illegally instead.

The old rules allowed licence holders to grow pot themselves or find a designated grower, but regulations introduced last year require patients to buy cannabis from a commercially licensed producer.

While the old rules were supposed to be phased out in April 2014, a court injunction has kept them alive for those already enrolled in the program.

Many patients are turning to dispensaries — which are abundant in Vancouver but technically illegal — including the B.C. Pain Society, where director Chuck Varabioff says a pot vending machine has made more than $1 million since it was installed last May.


The Canadian Press

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