EDITORIAL: Access to medical marijuana is important

This week, recreational marijuana use became legal in Canada.

This sounds great on paper for people who want to light up and not have to worry about the consequences from having a little bit of fun, but those who use marijuana and related products for medical reasons may be left in a puff of smoke.

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) has been used by many people for years, and the only way to purchase it has been through the “black market,” or through dispensaries offering a wide variety of products.

In the past couple decades, marijuana has taken on many changes. It is stronger, more carefully produced, and has become a niche market. Science has also been able to separate THC from cannabidiol (CBD), and other genetic makeups of traditional marijuana. These separate pieces have been used in many different ways to treat ailments from arthritis to respiratory issues, all the way across the spectrum to aches and pains and even cancer.

A huge market for medical marijuana has been our seniors. They are finding more and more that using medical-grade marijuana has helped improve their livelihoods.

But, with recreational legalization, medical marijuana users may not have access to pharmaceutical alternatives.

For the past year, Goldenites have been able to purchase medical marijuana at the dispensary in Nicholson, with a recommendation from their doctor. The stigma surrounding dispensaries has changed considerably in the past many years, and they have grown from a stereotypically dark and confusing place, to somewhere people can go to get medical information and speak with knowledgeable staff.

Unfortunately, Golden is losing a valuable resource for medical marijuana users. The closest place after October 17 to purchase marijuana in person will be in Kamloops, a four-hour drive many people will not be able to make.

The only other alternative to purchasing marijuana will be on the Internet. This can be a very confusing place, deciphering legitimate sellers from others, and doesn’t offer the same knowledgeable face to face experience that dispensaries have.

Hopefully the province and the Town of Golden can come together to ensure the needs of recreational and medical users are met. It is important that we service the needs of people who use marijuana recreationally, but it should be a higher priority to ensure medical users are able to have access to different types that service their needs.

It would be a shame to see people turning back to pharmaceuticals that have undesirable side effects, when there is perfectly good medicine that can be less harmful.

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