A number of Winnipeggers are fuming over new changes to Canada’s medical marijuana law.
The federal government will launch its free market for medical marijuana on Tuesday, eliminating personal home-growers and replacing them with commercial growers.
The move is meant to stop pot from being diverted for illegal use, but some medical marijuana users in Winnipeg say the move means they’ll be paying big bucks for something they could previously grow for cheap.
“They’re forcing sick people to jump through more holes than we have to,” said Steven Stairs, who uses medical marijuana for his glaucoma. “We already have to jump through holes to pay bills.”
A small group of medical marijuana users gathered outside the Canadian Museum for Human Rights Monday afternoon to protest the decision, which Stairs says unfairly marginalizes the ill.
“I’m not a criminal. I’m not a drug dealer, and I’m not a danger to my community,” he said.
Stairs wants to be allowed to keep growing marijuana at home.
Right now, about 37,000 people use medical marijuana in Canada. Of those, about 25,000 have licenses to grow for themselves.
Under the new rules, large indoor marijuana farms will be certified by the RCMP and national health inspectors.
Producers can then charge whatever the market will bear. Current estimates put that at between $3 and $7.60 per gram. That’s less than the estimated street value, which is currently at $10 per gram.
Stairs still thinks the higher prices will cause people to turn to street dealers to fill their need.
“If anything, this will increase the black market’s prevalence in the cannabis community rather than degrade it,” he said. “This is medicine. It’s usually used by ethical people, 90 per cent of the time, and the fact that there are criminal aspects and criminal elements infiltrating an otherwise wholesome community is really sad.”