This week, the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care announced that they would be amending the Smoke Free Ontario Act to ensure that the “that the ban on using an e-cigarette in smoke-free places does not apply to a medical marihuana user who uses an e-cigarette for medical [purposes]”.
This is a significant step forward in recognizing the rights of patients to use medical cannabis in public, and much of the credit for this change goes to Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana, whose Founder and Executive Director Jonathan Zaid participated in consultations with the Ontario Ministry of Health on the topic in order to ensure that well-intentioned anti-tobacco/nicotine legislation does not impede the rights of Canadian medical cannabis patients. CFAMM is playing an increasingly important role in advocating for the rights of medical cannabis patients.
As jurisdictions continue to put forward anti-smoking laws and by-laws, reasonable accommodations for medical cannabis patients need to be considered. Although there are only approximately 50,000 Canadian patients currently federally authorized to legally use medical marijuana, research suggests that between 500,000 and 1 million Canadians claim to be using cannabis for medical purposes (Adlaf, Begin & Sawka, 2005; Belle-Isle & Hathaway, 2007), and the rights to safe access for authorized patients should be considered in all new anti-smoking/vaporization regulations.
It’s interesting to note that in a recent Tilray patient survey that gathered over 300 responses, vaporization was cited as the primary method of ingestion by participating patients (37%), followed by joints (25%), pipes / bongs (23%), and edibles (14%). To the best of my knowledge, this is the first patient survey to find that vaporization is the main method of ingestion, and this reflects a growing trend in patient patterns of use.
In our ongoing efforts to better meet the needs of Canada’s medical cannabis patient community and health care providers, Tilray announced this week that it’s now selling the high-quality DaVinci Ascent vaporizer to registered patients. This high-tech, reliable vaporizer has long been one of my favourites (I test vaporizers as part of my work for Tilray). Additionally, Tilray is currently developing a series of cannabis extract products that include a high-CBD e-cigarette style vape pen, so this patient victory is very timely indeed.
I’d like to end by congratulating the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care and CFAMM for providing a common-sense, compassionate exemption for Ontario’s medical cannabis patients. Ontario currently has the biggest concentration of medical cannabis patients in Canada, so it only makes sense that they should take the lead in protecting patient rights to safe access. We can only hope that other Canadian jurisdictions will be so sensible when confronting similar circumstances in the future.
Philippe Lucas is VP of Patient Advocacy for Tilray and a long-time medical cannabis patient, researcher and advocate.