Medical Marijuana, Community Building, and Canada’s Compassionate Societies
Andrew D. Hathaway & Kate Rossiter
Marijuana’s use as medicine is now legal in Canada for patients who meet strict compassionate use guidelines. Most who self-medicate, however, still do so on their own terms, without government approval or the guidance of physicians. In this unregulated climate, “compassion clubs” outside the law play a vital role in the provision of safe access and therapeutic knowledge about medical marijuana. Operating on the margins of society, these outlets fulfill another purpose in creating a community among persons who are often highly marginalized themselves. Club membership provides a group identity, empowerment, and restorative supports over and above the marijuana use itself. The authors examine the role of compassion clubs in the lives of patients who choose to self-manage their pain and suffering by using marijuana. This supportive function of the clubs will be contrasted with the overly restrictive, formal system of supply under Canada’s evolving Marihuana Medical Access Regulations (MMAR).
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