Cindi Olsen was a medical cannabis patient when that was the only way to legally access the drug in Canada. Nearly nine months after marijuana became legal for all Canadians, the breast cancer survivor is starting to feel like users have been left behind. “It feels like we’ve been elbowed out”, she admitted. The Cambridge, Ontario, woman was diagnosed chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy, a long term side effect from cancer treatment.
“I was left with this really painful condition and I’m in a situation now where I’m totally disabled and I have really severe limitations,” Olsen explained. “And because it’s nerve pain, it’s really difficult to manage.” She was given anti seizure medications, anti-depressants and opioids to cope, but soon realized none of that was working for her. Left with a few other choices, Olsen decided to give medicinal cannabis a try. “it was a game changer,” she explained. “I’m high on CBD oil and I don’t have any side effects,” Marijuana improved her quality of life, but less than a year after it became legal for all Canadians, Olsen told HuffPost Canada she’s most concerned by the lack of supply for her medical needs.
Earlier this month, a survey commissioned by Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana (CFAMM), the Arthritis Society and the Canadian Pharmacists Association found one in four medical cannabis users said it was harder to access the drug since legalization. “In order to have an effective medical system for the hundreds and thousands of Canadians using cannabis for medical purposes, it needs to be more accessible,” CFAMM vice-president Max Monaghan-Ellison. Said in a statement.
The survey also found 38% of medical users rely heavily on cannabis to treat pain, insomnia, anxiety, stress and arthritis. Ensuring marijuana is available for these people ensures they don’t turn to opioids, a family of drugs linked to more than 10,300 deaths in Canada from January 2016 to September 2018. With taxes and delivery, Olsen said she’s paying more than $100 for a bottle of cannabidiol (CBD) oil at the Ontario Cannabis Store. But for her, the biggest issue for her is supply. “I think people are figuring it out,” she said of pot use for pain relief. “Prices have gone up and there’s less to go around.”