One month after Canada legalized cannabis, some medical marijuana patients, including ones who depend on treatment to keep severe symptoms at bay, are facing shortages as the country adapts to the new system. Some suggest that suppliers are diverting cannabis products to recreational retailers because of the potential for higher profits.
“It’s actually more than a supply issue. Really, it’s something of a health crisis now,” James O’Hara, of the advocacy group Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana, told the CBC.
The CBC spoke to many patients who have had trouble accessing medical marijuana due to shortages, including one family whose daughter suffers from a rare and debilitating genetic mutation.
Akash Walker is diagnosed with Rett Syndrome, a rare infirmity which affects brain development in girls, causing chronic pain and making her dependent on a wheelchair and feeding tube to survive.
Akasha’s mother Annette said that once they started using cannabis oil per a doctor’s recommendation, “It was like a weight was lifted from her. All of a sudden she was making eye contact with us and she was smiling.”
Akasha uses three kinds of cannabis oil, and one in particular has been hard to come by since legalization last month. Annette said she has made pleas to her supplier Aurora Cannabis, but, “They basically said there’s nothing they can do… They don’t seem to be able to supply it quickly enough.”
Even recreational users have been experiencing supply shortages, resulting in some becoming fed up and going back to the black market for their goods.
Health Canada, the country’s federal health department, has released a statement on the shortages, saying they anticipated the supply problem and that hopefully the new market will soon iron out the creases.
“Given the longstanding illegal status of cannabis, there were no established benchmarks to determine which products would be in high demand and which would not,” the organization’s communications advisor André Gagnon said.
“As the overall supply chain gains experience in the Canadian marketplace, it is expected that such localized and product-specific shortages will become far fewer in number.”
Photo via Flickr user WeedPornDaily