Canadian CANNAINVESTOR Magazine April 2017 - Page 53

Health Canada released the latest number of medical marijuana patients on February 23 – a 32% increase from September 2016 and a staggering 1,544% since mid-2014 (http://www.macleans.ca). Some allege these numbers are inflated by those seeking access who may not necessarily require it medically (ie: recreational users getting access to a safe reliable supply through prescription). Prescriptions for narcotics such as OxyContin and Fentanyl are examples that seem to make the headlines regularly. As such, one must accept that this indeed may transfer to the legal medical cannabis patient count. I cannot think of any an industry where there is zero fraud or errors. However, I was fortunate enough to be listening to a talk show on February 24, where this very topic was discussed and any increase in the patient count from errors or fraud was considered minimal. Rather, the medical expert offered a valid reason as to where the majority of the increased patient count was originating.

Stigma, public attitudes, fear of employer actions, difficulty in access, physician reluctance, supply issues, and so forth may have caused many patients who were eligible for medical cannabis to defer accepting a prescription. As these barriers continue to fall combined with growing acceptance of the fact that there are valid medical applications supported by increased research – those former reluctant patients are now accepting prescriptions. In other words, the patient count may have been artificially low in the past and if so would explain a recent surge of new patients. If you have not fully researched the medical benefits of medical marijuana and the array of medical conditions that it treats, I recommend that you do so. For many health conditions, it provides a reliable, consistent, and effective treatment with little to no side effects when compared to traditional pharmaceutical options. As with any drug, it will be more beneficial to some and in some cases may have its own adverse effects. Always consult with your Doctor on such matters.

Another reason for the recorded increase in the number of patients may be from those who were willing to take it as medicine but may have been acquiring it from illegal supply sources. The Federal Government has stated in no uncertain terms that “dispensaries” and “store fronts” are illegal – black and white. Not only are dispensaries illegal, but so are “compassion clubs”. Without getting too much into the distinction, dispensaries tend to be run as for-profit businesses where as compassion clubs tend to be not-for-profit. The natural question is “if the supply to these is not originating from legal Licensed Producers then where is it coming from?”

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