Why medical cannabis packaging poses accessibility challenges and how we can fix it

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This story is a part of the TGO column Medical Cannabis in Canada that takes a deep dive into the sector from the perspectives of patients, healthcare professionals, policymakers, researchers and professionals that navigate it. Opening medical cannabis packaging is complicated and difficult for many patients, and this is intentional The Cannabis Act was developed with the purpose of preventing youth access, protecting public health, curbing the illicit market and ensuring the medical stream is not misused. As a result, equity and accessibility often take a backseat. “Packaging is a physical barrier to access,” says Ashleigh Brown, Founder and CEO of SheCann Cannabis , a community of over 5,000 patients. “We have had patients actually use hacksaws, pliers, or vice grips to get to their medication.” When a patient is experiencing pain, tremor, swelling, or other problems with their hands, Brown points out, pinching, twisting and squeezing is not easy, preventing access to the very medication that may help alleviate those symptoms. ‘This approach to labelling is misleading Canadian cannabis consumers’ Give Canadian cannabis producers more packaging and labelling flexibility Meet the cannabis moms and entrepreneurs that Facebook and Instagram are banning A 2019 survey from Health Canada estimates that around a third of patients use cannabis to manage arthritis symptoms and similar proportions for chronic and acute pain. For those surveyed and other patients managing conditions like epilepsy and multiple sclerosis, packaging can present a unique challenge. “I can’t open my medication and it is a clear example of ableism in policy,” says Sarah Colero, a disability and medical cannabis advocate, who has been using cannabis to help manage ongoing complications like migraines and epileptic tendencies following multiple strokes. Colero has been prescribed opioids at various periods of her life and the process of receiving accessible packaging is simple. “When…

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