The mother of an epileptic woman says the only treatment that works for her daughter's epilepsy — cannabis — will become unaffordable under Health Canada's new medicinal marijuana regulations, meaning she will be forced to either break the law or watch her child suffer.
Cheryl Rose says since she began illegally giving her 20-year-old daughter Hayley marijuana in 2008, her seizures have dropped from hundreds a month to roughly a dozen.
Come April, however, new Health Canada rules will limit Rose's access to marijuana to federally approved suppliers at a much higher cost.
"If there's no way to stop them from changing this, my daughter will die," said Rose.
Currently, Hayley's treatment costs $200 a month. Hayley grows her own pot, which she calls Hayley's Comet, which she grinds into powder before it's measured into capsules for consumption with food three times a day.
Cheryl Rose says if she is forced to buy the 40 grams a day Hayley uses from approved growers, her treatment will cost thousands a month.
"There is no way to afford that kind of medication," she says.
A fight to prove marijuana works
Before Hayley began taking marijuana, Rose says her daughter would suffer as many as 15 seizures in a day. She says marijuana is the only medication that has ever given her any sort of relief.
"I got rid of half my seizures. How has that made a difference in [my] life?" asks Hayley. "A lot."
Rose's doctor agrees the treatment is working.
In January, federal Health Minister Rona Ambrose said Health Canada has never endorsed medical marijuana because more clinical trials are needed.
"We're making these decisions for health reasons, for medical reasons, based on the advice of the health community and also for public safety reasons," she said.
Rose and others will go before the courts next month in an attempt to stop Ottawa's decision. But, regardless of the outcome, she will continue providing marijuana for Hayley.
"Her death isn't an option. It's not and it's never going to be," she says.
The family is trying to establish a foundation to help with the cost of her treatment. They are organizing a fundraiser on Saturday, Feb. 22 at the Charqui Grill in Vancouver to raise money for the legal work to get the foundation up and running.
Unless Rose and others can stop Ottawa's move in the courts next month, they will become criminals by continuing to grow it or buy it illegally.