Medical versus Recreational

We have two classes of cannabis consumers in our country. The line between these classes is blurred.

I recently got my authorization to use medical cannabis. Suddenly, for the first time in my life, it is legal for me to possess and consume. Wow, what a relief!

I have purchased pot in the coffee shops in Amsterdam. I even got some at a store in Washington State. Neither of these is legal at the national level like medical users are in Canada.

However, it may be hard for me to remain legal “under the regulations”. There are limits. I can only buy and possess a restricted quantity. I cannot grow my own. I can only purchase from my assigned legal providers. It was difficult to get my authorization. And it will expire in a few months unless I can get it renewed.

Anyway, I was pretty excited to receive my card. Now I can buy from the pot shops in Vancouver. Oh, wait, that’s not legal either. Hmm, things might not be quite so perfect after all.

We have created two classes of cannabis consumers in our country, the legal and the illegal. Authorized medical users are allowed to possess and consume. They can buy brand name, certified cannabis from the legal providers. The rest of us are simply illegal. Oh, wait, I have my card now. I’m legal, too.

Please don’t be offended. I understand there are many seriously ill patients who depend on cannabis as their medicine. All I want to do here is to illustrate the confusion that enters in when we try to separate recreational use from medical. When does recreational use become medical? The answer is – when you are lucky enough to find a doctor willing to sign. My existing consumption and the reasons for my use did not change one bit when I got my authorization.

OK, so why do I have my permission? Am I abusing the system? Am I still a social rebel?

Is it medical use if smoking a joint makes me feel better? How about if I was in a really bad mood, and now I’m not? That might reduce stress and save me from a heart attack or stroke. How about depression or nervous disorder? I am not sure where the line lies.

These are all valid medical reasons that everyone can lay claim to. Everyone deserves medical cannabis! It’s simply more obvious for some than others. I will tell you how a hale and hearty person like me can be a medical cannabis patient. I suffer from sciatica - although most times you would never know it.

Well, I drove home the other day after skiing. When I got out of the car, my leg seized up. Racked by misfiring nerves, I could barely support my own weight. Clutching my leg with both hands, I hobbled around the car to reach for…a joint! Hardly able to stand, I inhaled fiercely, moaning the entire while (I’m not very good with pain). Half the joint did the trick; my leg began to release. Within moments, the relief was total and complete. I walked back around the car as if nothing had happened. This was not the first incident of its kind, either.

So that qualifies, right? I still feel embarrassed to need an excuse. Holding your license is kinda like growing your own. I got mine, screw everybody else. Some people can’t grow their own. Some people can’t find a doctor. Some people can’t afford to buy the medicine even if they manage to get their card.

It seems that no one wants to talk about the problems inherent within our system. It’s not perfect, that’s for sure. Don’t forget, it was created under the Harper administration. Doctors are reluctant to be gate keepers. Patients are reluctant to face the social stigma of cannabis use. The pot costs too much. It’s not easy being legal. The whole process is too onerous for many people who might benefit.

We have two classes of cannabis consumers in our country. The line between these classes is blurred. Who is consuming for health reasons? Who is not? Does this mean that one user is privileged and the other is a criminal? Of course, we have been promised legalization. None of us have a clear picture yet how this will look.

I may be temporarily legal under the byzantine regulation conjured up by our Supreme Court. I want to be truly legal - and honest about it. Whether I use cannabis for recreation or wellness should be no one’s concern but my own. It’s time to recognize the special needs of medical patients while extending the same rights and privileges to everyone. We must stand together.

Cannabis users have been trained to fear authority for many years. We learned to hide in the shadows. We felt like second class citizens. We were afraid about our jobs, our family and our friends. It is time for a new way. Legalization is upon us. Step out of the shadows. Make your opinions and beliefs known. Our system must work for everyone.

One day I was a recreational user. The next day I was a patient. Nothing really changed. Let’s agree that it is impossible to draw a line between medical and recreational use. Instead, let us make cannabis available without divisions that diminish us all. We live in a world of plenty. Let us choose to share. Peace



Whether you are a patient or a recreational user, now is the time to be a positive force for change.

Here are some of the things you can do. Research and learn more about cannabis. Start a dialogue at work or at home. Talk about medical cannabis and its benefits. Bring up the topic of legalization. Start small and build up. Engage with friends and family.

Respond to fear and inaccuracy wherever you see them. Set people’s minds at ease by showing you are a responsible cannabis user. Express your opinions and beliefs. Defend your right to use cannabis under legalization. Write to a newspaper, magazine or website. Be respectful. Communicate with your Member of Parliament. Copy the Attorney General. Get out of the cannabis closet! If you are not a cannabis user, support someone you know who is. We live in a unique moment in time. There will be no one to blame but ourselves if we fail to speak now. Take action!

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