Dear Mayor Watson, Stop targeting cannabis dispensaries! | Unpublished

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Unpublished Opinions

Cherie Wong's picture
Ottawa, Ontario
About the author

Co-Chair of the Young Greens of Canada, a youth politican working towards a greener and brighter future! 

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Dear Mayor Watson, Stop targeting cannabis dispensaries!

February 7, 2017

Dear Mayor Watson, Honourable Minister McKenna (and city counsellors of Ottawa), 

We met briefly during clubs week at the University of Ottawa. I was very impressed with your willingness to connect and reach out to youths in Ottawa. I must express my concerns over the various raids against medical dispensaries in Ottawa. As an honest and straightforward person, I will ask you to reexamine the police's actions against cannabis dispensaries. 

I have attached the Final Report of the Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulations, I hope you get a chance to give the report a thorough read and that this report will lift your prejudice and give you some understanding of cannabis use. 

I hope you will hear this plea on a personal level as well. Many of my friends and peers are suffering from severe health disorders (mental and physical), where not only medications cannot treat, but their daily lives are disrupted by their illnesses. Looking at medical, academic, and trustworthy studies, cannabis products are known to treat and care for a long list of health conditions and another list

The legality and prejudicial views of cannabis are obstacles these patients already face on a daily basis. Though Canada is lucky enough to share a free health care plan, in reality, the health care system is difficult and broken. Though family doctors are able to refer their patients to apply for medical cannabis, doctors are not trained in prescribing cannabis. Different strains and genealogy of cannabis can completely change the medical values. Patients can wait years, or just simply too long, for proper treatment of their medical conditions. 

A recent experience of my family made me more aware and concern about the cannabis prescription process. Instead of a prescription for pain medication, a family member of mine received a mainly psychoactive strain of cannabis. To worsen the situation, the prescription was on such a low concentration that the entire treatment was not effective in the least. This family member died of late-stage bone cancer, an extremely painful experience and without any effective medication. 

I met a lot of visitors in these dispensaries, they had chronic pain, epilepsy, anxiety disorders, were recovering addicts, and many other types of medical conditions. The dispensaries raids are denying these patients from their essential medication. From pain management, symptoms management, to the treatment of mental health issues, cannabis is the only option left for these patients. If a diabetic patient needs an insulin shot, will we close their pharmacy indefinitely and take away their medication? 

Being a resident on Bank Street in Centretown area, I encounter the various medical dispensaries on a daily basis. I will not argue for you and the Ottawa Police Service to ignore the federal-mandated drugs criminal laws, but I ask you show discretion and initiative to embrace the federal government’s transition to legalizing medical and recreational cannabis use. These dispensaries, though mostly not following every recommendation suggested by the Task Force, provide a semi-legitimate verification process on their clients. From my knowledge, these dispensaries kept record of medical consent forms from medical professionals of their clients. 

I truly believe the Ottawa Police Service and the City Council can develop a guideline on cannabis sales for medical purposes, as the federal government develop the national legalization plan. If we shut down the public displays of medical dispensaries, individuals will turn to black market. Not only that black market cannabis contribute to criminal groups, but can be dangerous for patients who are simply seeking treatment. 

There are much we can do to help Canadians. Sometimes that means we show flexibility, commitment, and discretion in medical cannabis dispensaries.