A Prince Edward Island man says the province is one of the toughest when it comes to getting a licence for medical marijuana.
Sean Brady was part of the recent Ontario case where the judge ruled the program needs to be fixed, or marijuana could become legalized in Ontario.
Brady used to be the picture of health, but a few years ago he developed chronic psoriasis, tendonitis and celiac disease. Doctors couldn't tell him why he suddenly got so sick.
He didn't like the side effects of medications prescribed to him, so he turned to marijuana.
"Blow ups of psoriasis don't bug me as much, I'm able to ignore them a lot better. I find my joint pain is a lot more tolerable. It reduces swelling, but it also makes the pain a lot easier to deal with," Brady said Thursday.
But when he tried to get a license to get medical marijuana through Health Canada, he was turned down.
"I have had doctors actually tell me, 'Look I'd love to be able to prescribe that for you, but I can't. Here's a narcotic,'" Brady said.
Dr. Desmond Colohan, a pain specialist, said doctors are likely concerned about liability and the safety of marijuana.
He's one just a few doctors on the Island who are willing to sign off on a license. Colohan said he gets about two requests a year.
"It's my impression that very few of my colleagues feel comfortable supporting or endorsing applications for medical marijuana," Colohan said.
"I do believe that there are very selective circumstances in which the use of cannabinoids, which includes medical marijuana, is an appropriate part of a multidisciplinary plan to manage pain."
After several years of trying to get a doctor's permission, Brady decided to grow his own marijuana. He was busted, and went to jail. It wasn't until he was diagnosed with testicular cancer last fall that he finally got the license for medical marijuana that he wanted.
"It's incredibly frustrating because there really is a huge stigma for using marijuana as a medical agent," Brady said.
His choice to use medical marijuana hasn't been cheap. He says he pays Health Canada $1,200 a month, and it's not covered by any health plan.
Brady hasn't been able to find a job on P.E.I. to pay for it, so he's moving to Toronto.
His story was one of many collected across Canada as part of a recent Ontario case involving a man with a similar story.
Ontario Justice Donald Taliano ruled Canada's medical marijuana program made it too difficult for sick people to get the drug. The judge ordered Ottawa to make changes or face the prospect of legalizing marijuana in Ontario.
Colohan said he has doubts one Ontario judge will be able to change the federal program.
April 14, 2011
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