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Medical marijuana patient claims recreational demand has left him without his medicine

Last Updated Oct 25, 2018 at 5:12 pm EDT

John has incurable cancer. John has a Health Canada prescription for medical marijuana. John can’t get his medicine.

The Barrie, Ont., man told CityNews on Thursday that he’s been left to suffer without his medicine because the laboratories Health Canada uses to inspect medical marijuana are bogged down testing recreational weed.

“I have an incurable cancer,” he said in a phone interview. “The thing is now I can’t get my medicine. It’s like me going to my pharmacy and they not having the medicine that I need for my cancer.”

John, who didn’t want his last name used, says he uses CBD and dried cannabis to help him sleep and alleviate the pain from bone marrow cancer.

He cannabis products to more dangerous opioids.

But when he tried to refill his prescription last weekend through licenced producer CannTrust, he was told no product was currently available.

“I was going to make my order on Saturday and they tell me that they don’t have no product at all. They are saying the reason is because they can’t get the government inspectors around enough to inspect the product to put it back on the shelf.”

“I’m stuck with a prescription that I can’t do nothing with,” he adds. “I can’t get the stuff. I would have to go on the black market.”

CityNews called CannTrust several times Thursday, and was told that they are in the process of restocking product. A customer service agent said a backlog in lab testing was to blame for the shortage affecting some medical patients.

“We are working diligently to move these products through external quality testing that is required by Health Canada and we are experiencing extended timelines due to the increase in overall industry demand.”

CannTrust later sent CityNews a statement, saying it was working to speed up the testing process.

“We know how important medical cannabis is to our loyal patients and we apologize for this situation,” it said. “We are all working hard to fix this urgently and have increased the number of third-party testing labs that we work with to speed up the process…”

There are currently 20 labs in Ontario that are licenced to conduct testing on marijuana.

CityNews reached out to MP Bill Blair’s office about the shortage and was provided the following response:

“We streamlined the licensing of producers and are enabling increased production of cannabis with 129 Licensed Producers currently licensed to ensure a legal, quality-controlled supply of cannabis. With any new system, there is bound to be an adjustment period, but we are confident that supply will meet ongoing demand.”

Are you a medical patient that’s been affected by a shortage? If so we’d like to hear from you. Here’s how you can reach out to share your story.