Medicinal Pot Users Feeling Persecuted by B.C.’S Mayors

Aside from its dull green colour, the substance looks like any other lotion or cream. It gives off a mild, medicinal smell with a hint of something organic. There is none of the harsh pungency of Tiger Balm, which is used for a similar purpose. The only thing remarkable about it is the fact that only 200-or-so people in Chilliwack are legally allowed to use it.

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That’s because the lotion is a balm in which cannabis is the main ingredient. It belongs to, and is used by, a Chilliwack man with a medical marijuana licence. We’ll call the man John. He agreed to speak to the Times on the condition that he not be identified; “I don’t want somebody to come and steal my medicine,” he said.

The Canna Balm, as the Tupperware’s lid reads, is John’s preferred way to consume marijuana. Every day, he wakes up to pain in his back caused by years of manual labour.

To relieve the aches, John applies the balm-consisting of cannabis, olive oil and beeswax-to the sore area and swears by its effectiveness.

Users absent from conversation

Mayor Sharon Gaetz has been outspoken about her belief that marijuana grown in Chilliwack homes poses a danger to the community. And last month, the Times published Health Canada numbers that show Chilliwack does indeed have an above-normal rate of medical marijuana use.

But as the debate over medical marijuana users has raged, users of licenced cannabis have been notably absent from the ongoing conversation. John would like that to change. He says more of the 200-plus people who have licences to use marijuana should step forward and add their voice to the discussion. And yet, John won’t let himself be identified, a con-tradiction that he acknowledges and regrets.

“Everybody should stand up and say, ‘Yeah, I do this.'”

As a medical marijuana user and grower, John feels unfairly targeted by the calls by Gaetz and other mayors for Health Canada to limit homegrown medical marijuana.

“We’re basically made to look like criminals. We’re not criminals,” said John. “We’re people who have exhausted every other resource to make themselves better.”

John says he grows 25 plants in an outbuilding on his property. He says he has lights and uses hydroponics to keep his marijuana watered.

He smokes and eats ( as an ingredient in baked goods ) a portion of his crop, but John figures he consumes 90 per cent of his marijuana in balm form. Each plant can produce enough marijuana for hundreds of joints, but John says balms and other manners of consumption require considerably more cannabis.

“If they’re eating it, they’ve got to use a lot more. If they’re putting it on the skin, they’ve got to use a lot more than that.”

He estimated that one finger-full of the balm required 12 joints worth of weed.

Prescribed anti-depressants as a child, John has developed an antipathy towards prescription drugs. Like many, he began using marijuana as a teenager and felt it helped him overcome a death in the family.

By his mid-20s he had developed pain in his back and after a series of X-rays, CAT scans and MRIs, he was prescribed pain relievers.

“They didn’t really help,” he said. “They didn’t get rid of the pain. They kind of dulled it and allowed me to work through it.”

And he had soon had enough of the drugs. He said he felt like, “You’ve been feeding me pills for 30 years. I don’t want to take more drugs.”

Marijuana, used illegally at first, alleviated his symptoms. But his doctor at the time wasn’t permitted to prescribe cannabis. Last year, though, he got a referral to another doctor who was allowed to prescribe pot.

He said the process was easy-fill out a couple forms, undergo a criminal record check, get a photo taken-and two months later, he had his licence.

John is actually sympathetic to the concerns of those who say marijuana shouldn’t be grown in homes.

But he says the proposal to have it grown commercially and sold in pharmacies or dispensaries isn’t the solution.

“Some people aren’t going to be able to afford to buy it,” he said, citing the high price in still-open cannabis clubs.

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News Hawk – 420 Warrior 420 MAGAZINE
Location: British Columbia
Source: Chilliwack Times
Author: Rebecca Duran
Contact: [email protected]
Copyright: 2012 Chilliwack Times