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News (Media Awareness Project) - CN ON: Medicinal Marijuana Program Under Review
Title:CN ON: Medicinal Marijuana Program Under Review
Published On:2012-01-19
Source:Northumberland Today (CN ON)
Fetched On:2012-01-22 06:01:06

WARKWORTH - Adrienne Baker-Hicks has been using medical marijuana
since 2009 to manage pain due to 30 serious medical conditions - but
each year renewal through Health Canada is more difficult and she
fears the Harper Government is attempting to get rid of the program.

"I live with pain constantly, every day," Adrienne Baker-Hicks said
during an interview at her isolated, rural Warkworth-area home
outlining the medical conditions that have wracked her body. She
suffers with seizures and other problems including degenerative disc
disease - with bone spurs sticking into her spinal cord, a rare blood
disorder (Antiphospholipid-Syndrom) and Lupis. One such painful
disease has eaten the cartilage out of her right ear and started on
her left before she was properly diagnosed.

Smoking marijuana doesn't alleviate the pain, Baker-Hicks said, it
just makes it bearable, and is far more beneficial for her than the
escalating level of pharmaceutical drugs she took for years before
including narcotics like oxycontin and a Fentanyl transdermal patch
which she describes as stronger that morphine. Marijuana lets her
sleep, eat and live better, although she spends most of her time at

"As soon as I tried it (medical marijuana) I noticed a huge
difference," she said. As a teenager, Baker-Hicks had used marijuana
and other street drugs but had stopped in the late 1970s.

The 53-year-old Warkworth area woman shakes so much that her husband,
Graham Hicks, has to roll her medicinal joints for her. The marijuana
comes in air-tight pouches, each containing 30 grams of the dried
plant material she keeps it in her fridge. It is delivered by
Purolator. The former veterinarian technician and biomedical
researcher, pays Health Canada $847.50 per month, including HST, for
her supply.

Despite needing a physician's signature on the special application
form to receive medical marijuana, OHIP doesn't cover any of the cost.

Last year Baker-Hicks was having trouble getting the right forms from
Health Canada for her renewal with the medical marijuana program and
contacted local riding MP Rick Norlock for help. She ended up without
any of her pain assistance substance for a whole week, and credits the
intervention of people at Norlock's office with finally getting it.

She was one of the witnesses in the landmark Matt Mernagh case last
April where Justice Donald Taliano found that "the road to marijuana
approval is a virtual obstacle course which few patients can
navigate," and then struck down Canada's law prohibiting possession of
production of marijuana giving the federal government 90 days to fix
it, otherwise effectively legalizing marijuana.

According to a CBC report this past fall, the medical marijuana law
for legitimately sick people is under review. Baker-Hicks believes
comments from Prime Minister Stephen Harper's office, and the actions
of Health Canada, predict a phasing out of the program and she is very
fearful. There is an court appeal set for March 20 of this year.

Baker-Hick last worked in 1998 when, because of her strokes and
seizures caused by pain, plus related medical conditions, she was put
in a long-term care facility. She eventually moved out into an
apartment but found she couldn't manage on her own. She and her
husband have been together for about 10 years.

She became aware of Health Canada's medical marijuana program in 2001
but it took her three years to find a physician that would sign the
application and for the federal government department to provide the
supply she must pay for. Each year renewal is a nightmare and her
dealings with Health Canada, an exercise in frustration.

But despite Baker-Hick's fears, Norlock said the federal government
"can't roll back the (medical marijuana) program that the Supreme
Court has declared a right" and that "we won't be doing away with
provisions of the medical marijuana program."

Yes, there may be changes, the local riding MP said in a recent
interview, in order to ensure safety for users, growers and the
public, but "we are not doing away with the program...It is the
opposite to what some people think."

The program has expanded during the past five years, Norlock said, and
Health Canada is reviewing the whole program to meet current
requirements, plus to take into account concerns of municipalities and
residents. Norlock referred to concerns raised in the Municipality of
Port Hope where a medical marijuana growing operation was proposed.
They included concerns about a commercial-sized operation and matters
related to emergency service providers who might have to respond to
the operation.

Norlock said that to the best of his knowledge, Adrienne Baker-Hicks
is the only person his office has helped in this riding to obtain
their medical marijuana renewal status, but "if there is a constituent
(in need) we can provide that help."
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