COLUMN: Sowing the seeds of discontent

He doesn’t like constantly being thought of as a criminal.
And, ironically, he doesn’t want his name published because if we did, the criminal element in town would immediately target him.

By Bill Phillips

Black Press

He doesn’t like constantly being thought of as a criminal.

And, ironically, he doesn’t want his name published because if we did, the criminal element in town would immediately target him.

He is one of 29 people in Prince George with a licence to grow marijuana for medical purposes. He fought throat cancer. He’s had dozens of rounds of chemo and radiation. Marijuana helps him.

One of the downsides of beating a tough cancer is that it changes you. He explained to me that there comes a point when you realize that, even though you’ve beaten back the disease, you’re not going to be the same person you were.

In his case, his cancer left him unable to produce saliva and difficulty swallowing. Because of that, he was unable to sleep through the night.

He hit a wall a while back and realized that those side effects of his treatment would never go away. So he decided to try medical marijuana. He doesn’t even smoke it. He cooks it in muffins, has one before he goes to bed … and sleeps like a baby.

It works for him.

He has a licence to grow 25 plants at a time but only grows about eight at a time. He’s invested about $10,000 in his hydroponics equipment and grows marijuana properly.

Last month Health Canada announced it wants to change the rules regarding medical marijuana, which would mean my friend with throat cancer would no longer be able to grow his own marijuana and, instead, have to buy it from a commercial producer.

It doesn’t take an MBA to figure out that if you grow your own food it will cost you less than if you have to buy it at a grocery store. The same goes for marijuana.

He says if he buys marijuana from Health Canada now it costs about $5 per gram and the potency is about 12 per cent. He can easily see the cost doubling to $10 per gram, which would cost him about $3,600 per year. Plus, the potency of homegrown B.C. Bud is a lot higher than the 12 per cent commercial grade stuff.

As you can well imagine, he is dead-set against the proposed Health Canada changes. He feels the proposed changes are a knee-jerk reaction by the Conservative government to an Ontario judge who ruled Canada’s laws governing medical marijuana are unconstitutional.

He sees the proposed new rules as a way the Conservatives see to fill all the new jails they want to build, as mandatory jail sentences for drug infractions are in the Tories’ new crime bill.

All he sees with the new regulations is a higher cost for himself, and others who don’t break the rules in place now, and the threat of jail if he decides to save a few bucks and continue to grow his own.

“Why aren’t we looking at (medical marijuana) as a counter to pharmaceuticals?” he asks.

Good question.

He’s looking to contact other medical marijuana growers in order to lobby against Health Canada’s proposed changes. They have to do so by the end of the month.

If you want to contact him, send him an e-mail at: pg.mmar@shaw.ca.

Bill Phillips is the editor of the Prince George Free Press.