Medical cannabis users complain of shortages, delays
Medical cannabis users are complaining of persistent product shortages and ongoing shipment delays since the drug became legal for recreational use.
“The bigger strains that I use… are not available,” medical user Clayton Goodwin told CTV News. “I check my licensed producer on the daily and the strains that I need -- because it’s strain-specific to my injuries -- are not available or disappear quickly.”
Goodwin uses products like cannabis-infused lotion to manage chronic pain.
“It allows both my mental health and pain levels to live -- you live a normal life,” he explained. "I’m not running around, as they say, ‘high’… This is CBD, non-psychoactive.”
While recreational cannabis users can shop around, medical users are somewhat more limited as they can only buy marijuana products from specific licensed producers if they want their health insurance to cover it. When their preferred strain or product is not available, they are simply out of luck.
Health Canada admits that there have been localized shortages since legalization went into effect on Oct. 17 and it expects them to continue for months. Overwhelmed distributors and rotating Canada Post strikes have also led to shipment delays.
Meanwhile, cannabis producers and distributors claim that they are ramping up production and shipments to meet an overwhelming demand that appears to have been grossly underestimated.
“The restriction on the amount of your medicine that you can purchase in any 30-day period has been removed,” cannabis lawyer Trina Fraser explained to CTV News. “So in some cases, that’s maybe led to some producers not forecasting accurately what the demand for medical products would be.”
Medical users, however, say that adding more supply will not be enough. Many are now urging the federal government to create tougher regulations that protect and prioritize the supply for the medical market.
James O’Hara serves as the president and CEO of the non-profit advocacy group, Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana.
“There’s a lot of patients, frankly, who are suffering from anxiety today and this constraint in supply contributes to that anxiety,” O’Hara told CTV News.
With a report from CTV’s Annie Bergeron-Oliver in Ottawa