VERNON - A drop of cannabis oil eaten on a cracker is making 13-year-old Tanniel’s seizure’s drop from 170 a day, to 30.
“It was our life saver,” her mom, Elizabeth Bakker says.
Doctors tried a number of different things, Bakker says, but Tanniel’s non-epileptic seizures weren’t getting better. Frustrated and heartbroken at seeing her daughter unable to go swimming or to school, sometimes seizing for up to an hour, she and her partner James Pilgrim started looking for a doctor that would prescribe medical marijuana. In September 2015, after finding a compassionate doctor willing to sign off on the paperwork, Tanniel started taking CBD hemp oil.
“Within four days, she went down from 170 to 30 seizures (per day),” Pilgrim says.
The family was part of a crowd gathered outside Vernon city hall today, Dec. 11, rallying for access to medical marijuana. Local dispensaries were all given an RCMP warning recently to shut down, which they’ve done on a rotating basis.
Currently, Health Canada’s regulations require patients to access medical marijuana through a mail order system — not through dispensaries. But Bakker says they can’t get what they need through the mail.
“They don’t sell CBD oil, it’s not even on there. It’s not the THC making the difference, it’s the oil. Without it my daughter’s future is in jeopardy,” Bakker says. “Now we’re unfortunately being told by the cops ‘oh, we’re going to have to shut this down.’ What does that mean for my daughter's future?”
Jeff Gaudette is one of the owners of MMJ Total Health Care, where Tanniel gets her medicine. He’s also part of a coalition of local dispensaries working to raise awareness about medical marijuana patients.
“These are the people who slip through the cracks in health care and are being discriminated against, threatened of their own public safety to enter a store to buy their medication,” Gaudette says.
Gaudette says for many patients, dispensaries are the only way they can access their medicine.
“If you don’t have credit card, a cell phone, a computer, or an address, many of our patients live in shelters, they can’t receive product through the mail,” Gaudette says.
The dispensaries are leaning on local politicians to speak out and voice their opinions, even if they’re not in support.
“If we know they’re against it, it gives us an opportunity to educate them,” Gaudette says.
He says there haven’t been any further warnings from the RCMP, or much of a dialogue at all.
“We’re hoping that one day we’ll actually get some open communication and be able to voice our concern.”
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