Nova Scotia

Medical marijuana users wait for licences

A Halifax man says he was forced to wait months to legally access medicinal marijuana, the result of a national backlog because of a rise in applicants.

Backlog due to rise in applications: Health Canada

A Halifax man says he was forced to wait months to legally access medicinal marijuana, the result of a national backlog because of a rise in applicants.

David Shea, 30, suffers from schleroderma, a chronic and disabling autoimmune disease that affects the skin, organs, joints and digestive tract. 

After Shea's licence to use medical marijuana expired in September, he said he was stuck in a four-month backlog with Health Canada before his new licence arrived in the mail Wednesday.

"I've been without medicine which means I've had to go to the black market or rely on friendly people to give me cannabis," he said Thursday.

"It gives me the ability to go around and do the housework and things like that because I'm not in pain," he said.

Shea said the paperwork to renew his licence was sent to the government in May.

"I just feel like the regulations and the department doing the paperwork is a barrier for me gaining safe access to cannabis," he said.

More than 600 Nova Scotians are licensed to possess medical marijuana and some of them could also face long waits.

Heath Canada is working to address the national backlog it says has been been caused by a sharp rise in new applications.

Shea said getting his renewal in the mail this week has given him peace of mind. He's now waiting for his medical marijuana order to arrive by mail.

"I feel safer because now if a police officer comes by and asks if I have proof for my medicine, now I can show them that I do," said Shea.