Most Canadian patients who use cannabis therapeutically are not registered under the federal medical marijuana access program and continue to acquire their medicine from the black market, according to survey data published in the April issue of the journal AIDS Care.
Investigators at the Canadian AIDS Society and British Columbia’s Centre for Addictions Research surveyed 197 volunteers living with HIV/AIDS. Among the respondents surveyed, 61 percent said that they used marijuana therapeutically, but only 36 percent said that they had applied for legal access to use cannabis under Canada’s Marihuana Medical Access Regulations (MMAR). Enacted in 2001, the MMAR grants qualified patients a federal exemption to possess and use medicinal marijuana. Registered patients also have the option to purchase government grown pot.
Among those respondents who had not registered with the government, most said that they found Health Canada’s regulations to be overly “onerous, complicated, or intimidating.” Many also said that they had consistently heard negative feedback about the program and the quality of the government’s medical cannabis. Of those patients surveyed, only two percent said they had purchased government grown medi-pot.
On average, HIV/AIDS patients consumed about 66 grams of marijuana per month (2.2 grams per day), the survey reported. Sixty-nine percent of those surveyed said that their physician supported their marijuana therapy, and 92 percent reported that they had spoken with their doctor about their marijuana use.
Most patients surveyed (62 percent) said that they acquired medical cannabis from “a friend or someone they know,” while 36 percentage said they purchased cannabis from private cannabis dispensaries. Authors of the study recommended the Canadian government begin formally licensing dispensaries because they provide patients with “a safe supply of cannabis … and offer therapeutic knowledge and [other] social support needs that other supply sources do not.”
Commenting on this recommendation, Philippe Lucas, founder of the Vancouver Island Compassion Society, said: “Our current federal program is failing to protect critically and chronically ill Canadians. … [T]he lack of official government and legal support for … community-based dispensaries means that those who use medical cannabis to treat serious health conditions face unnecessary risk and stigma for making fundamental choices in regards to their healthcare.”
A 2004 Canadian Addiction Survey reported that approximately four percent of Canadians aged 15 and older self identify as medicinal cannabis patients. However, fewer than 1,400 Canadians are registered to legally use medical marijuana under the MMAR.
…this post forwarded by a Windsor Humanist (N.Hod) after an article published in the April 2007 issue of the medical journal AIDS Care