Cannabis provides effective relief for persons living with critical and chronic illnesses and must be readily accessible. We recognize the intrinsic worth of cannabis as a viable treatment option, irrespective of legality and social stigma.
By offering a safe and secure means of access to high quality medical cannabis, medical cannabis dispensaries reduce the potential harms often associated with illicit distribution. Cannabis is an important harm reduction tool as a substitute to decrease the use of other drugs, including pharmaceuticals, due to its well-tolerated side effects, low potential for dependency and the inability to result in overdose.
The individual is the primary authority when it comes to making personal healthcare decisions, including the decision to use cannabis medicinally. The individual must have the right to produce their own medicine and access it in a manner that best meets their needs. Empowerment encourages the individual to take control of their own healing.
The individuals that operate dispensaries, the patients they serve and the cultivators that supply them have the right to respect and ethical treatment. These individuals are in the best position to describe what it is like to provide and access medical cannabis under the current social and legal framework and to recommend the ways in which these circumstances should be improved. These experiences must be respected and strategies explored to remove stigma associated with medical cannabis use. Access to cannabis must be free from all forms of discrimination and barriers.
Everyone must have affordable access to this medicine. A fair price must be established for the product of ethical cultivators that appropriately rewards their labor and respects the financial reality of patients. The cost of medical cannabis must be covered by provincial health authorities.
Medical cannabis dispensaries must be transparent and accountable for their service provision, dispensary management, community relations, advocacy efforts and court challenges. Adherence to regulations based on best-practices will support medical cannabis dispensaries to provide the highest standard of care that patients can and should expect, thus ensuring those with medical need have continued access.