This letter was written by the outgoing Victoria MP, Murray Rankin to the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth in defense of reasonable access to cannabis medicine for patients. Mr. Farnworth’s office oversees the regulation and enforcement of cannabis regulations in Canada. Thank you to Steve Palmer from the Disabled Rights Association for contributing to this letter.
August 27, 2019
Honourable Mike Farnworth
Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General
Room 128 Parliament Buildings
Dear Honourable Minister:
I am writing with respect to access to cannabis for medical purposes. One of my constituents has raised some particular issues with respect to access to medical marijuana and the closure of retail providers in my constituency.
While I appreciate the need to license and regulate the cannabis industry under a new regime associated with legalization for recreational purposes, there have been some unintended consequences for those who rely on medical marijuana to deal with specific health problems for which traditional pharmaceuticals have proven ineffective or problematic.
These are the issues as I understand them:
Corporate control of the supply of cannabis has resulted in cost increases for much product, doubling prices for those reliant on medical marijuana, a real challenge for those of limited means – people with disabilities or terminal illnesses who need a sustainable and reliable supply easy to access and at a price that can manage. The control of supply by larger corporate entities also appears to be reducing the selection and quality of product and disadvantaging smaller craft producers who have the capacity to help meet supply shortages and product diversity that will be important to many medical marijuana users.
Medical marijuana is still specifically being taxed, even where is it prescribed, raising prices and reducing accessibility for those in need. All other prescription medicines are exempt from PST. Most recently, the closure of many outlets by Community Safety Units, or those shutting down voluntarily pending license approvals is exacerbating the problem for medical marijuana users.
I recognize that this is a provincial issue and so I tread carefully. But on behalf of my constituents for whom the new regime was created in response to the federal decision to legalize cannabis, it appears that a barrier has been created. Therefore, I would ask that the province explore change to the provincial tax regime and to the regulation of operators in an effort to allow those with genuine medical need to have access to quality medicinal cannabis at affordable prices.
Accessibility is an issue also (wheelchair users) whose choices have been curtailed. Finding nearby outlets that do not oblige patients to travel out of their neighbourhoods is proving to be an issue for some.
Given the range of issues related to medical marijuana that have been brought to my attention by constituents, may I suggest that you meet with those on the community who advocate on behalf of people with disabilities and medical marijuana users to give them an opportunity to share their experience with the new regime and offer suggestions for improving service deliver for those now challenged by a regime that is less effective in meeting their needs.
Murray Rankin, MP
(NDP – Victoria)