KAMLOOPS - Roberta Winter doesn't know what she will do now after the marijuana dispensary where she gets her medication became the latest to receive notice from the City of Kamloops that it must shut down its operations.
Winter, 78, has been using cannabidiol oil and medicinal cannabis gummies for arthritis. She says without the marijuana-based products she is in constant pain and can't get more than three hours of sleep a night.
Winter has arthritis in her face, shoulders, hands, knees, ankles and her feet. The only relief she has received from her doctor has been prescriptions for anti-depressants to help her sleep and painkillers to make her more comfortable.
"But those are highly addictive," she says. "I didn't realize that until I went online and I don't know why (my doctor) didn't tell me. I don't think I would have taken it had I known and I would have just kept going on three hours sleep."
Winter says she was turned on to medicinal cannabis earlier this year and her quality of life has improved dramatically since then. The pain in her joints is relieved within 30 minutes of applying the cannabidiol oil and she gets up to seven hours a sleep a night thanks to the cannabis gummies.
With the closure of medicinal cannabis dispensaries in Kamloops, Winter says she doesn't know what she is going to do now.
"If I can't get the oil and gummies I am going to have to go back on the prescriptions," she says. "I don't want to do that, but the idea of having to go back to the pain again is just unreal."
The option Winter feels could be considered by some medicinal marijuana users — though she doesn't plan to do it herself — is turning to street level drug dealers to get her cannabis. She worries about the risk and that what she is able to buy from dealers won't be safe. She is also concerned the marijuana will include an element that causes users to get high, THC, which has been removed from the medicine she uses.
Winter adds that aside from taking advice from friends or family, there hasn't been any information passed on to her from her doctor or anybody else in the healthcare community regarding what to do next.
"I really don't know what to do," she says. "It just fills me with dread to think about going back to the pain."
According to Kamloops RCMP Staff Sgt. Simon Pillay, the closure of medicinal marijuana dispensaries in Kamloops is the result of these businesses getting their supply from illegal drug dealers and gangs.
"Every single storefront you see is selling illegal marijuana," he says. "Its coming from illegal organized crime grow-ops. Marijuana storefronts in Canada can not get marijuana from a safe supply chain or a government approved grow facility."
So where does that leave people like Roberta Winter?
Pillay says any medicinal marijuana users who can no longer access the medicine through a dispensary needs to contact their doctor in hopes of acquiring a prescription. Then they can attempt to get their hands on the medicine through legal channels.
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