I just penned a short piece on Dallas Buyers Club and the current debates about medical marijuana in Saskatoon, SK for the Star Phoenix.
With the federal election fast approaching, the Harper government’s move to enlarge Canada’s marijuana industry, and the RCMP’s potential actions against dispensaries here in Saskatoon, a lot is happening!
The piece begins this way:
In the award-winning 2013 movie, Dallas Buyers Club, we are exposed to heroic patient activism during the AIDS crisis in the U.S. Based on the true story of AIDS-stricken Ron Woodroof, a hard-partying Texas tradesman, the film shows a strikingly thin Matthew McConaughey battle his sickness and the legal authorities in Texas.
Woodroof, who’s unhappy with his illegally purchased AIDS medicine, and on the edge of death, seeks out alternative and experimental drugs from a doctor in Mexico. Then Ron, being the savvy entrepreneur that he is, quickly establishes a club (a dispensary) to sell his unregulated, sometimes dangerous, imported medicines. In doing so, he operates outside the law and is forced to confront the existing power structure of drug regulation. At one point in the film, Ron storms a town hall meeting of citizens, drug company leaders, and regulators and starts finger-pointing. “People are dying. And y’all up there are afraid that we’re gonna find an alternative without you.”
Saskatoon’s current struggle with illegal marijuana dispensaries has many parallels.
Mark Hauk, who operates Saskatoon’s first medical marijuana dispensary, is one of 13 pot club owners across Canada who has recently received a notice from Health Canada warning of possible RCMP raids.
These stores and clubs are illegal because they procure and sell their products outside the federal medical marijuana system, which was overhauled and expanded last year to allow industrial-scale production of pot products that are mailed directly to licensed patients.
While this system was certainly upgraded through the Harper government’s Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulation, there are still areas for improvement.
According to Neil Boyd at Simon Fraser, “…it is really quite bizarre that they’re using a mail-order system for marijuana as medicine; that’s not the way medicine is usually dispensed. Medicine is usually dispensed through a visit to a physician and through a pharmacy.”
The entire opinion-editorial, which is called “Pot problems have a familiar ring,” can be found here.