A rant about Canada’s Medical Marijuana System


“Being disabled should not mean being disqualified from having access to every aspect of life.”      

Emma Thompson

This is much longer than my usual blogs. I’m sorry. But not sorry: read on and you will see why.

Today, I treated another human being in an awful manner. But I’m so fed up with this problem, that I must admit I don’t feel overly sorry. Here’s the issue:

Medical marijuana is a controlled substance in Canada and there are strict guidelines for the purchase of this medication. I have to order online from a licensed provider (LP) and they then arrange for the shipment to be delivered directly to my home either by Canada Post, or by another courier with whom they have contracted services.

A signature is required, so there is no just leaving the parcel behind. If they are unable to locate anyone at the residence, then a slip is left in my mailbox saying “We were here, and you were not, so now you have to drive to the postal outlet or to the courier’s office and pick up your parcel.”

It seems like a really simple system, right? Except it’s clumsy and rife with errors. Part of the issue is that my home is hidden from the road. We live on the side of a hill on a lovely  property that is tucked away. There is a buzzer at the gate. It means that drivers must get out of the truck, ring the buzzer and then walk down the hill to our front door, or they must ring the buzzer and wait for me to come to them and sign off on the delivery.

The problem? No one wants to get out of the truck, walk to the gate, ring the buzzer and give me a few minutes to get to them. Over the course of 4 months, I have worked very hard to communicate to them that they must ring the buzzer and walk down into our yard to our front door, or ring the buzzer and give me time to get to them.

Today? The buzzer rang, but the driver returned to his truck almost immediately after ringing it. I had to run up the stairs and when I got to the gate? He was already in his truck, reaching into my mailbox to leave me a notice to go to pick up the medicine because “We were here but you were not…” I yelled at him to wait, then had to open the gate and run to him before he drove off. Of course, as soon as I opened the gate? One of my dogs joined in on the adventure of running up the driveway. This was his excuse: I am afraid of dogs so I did not want to come to you.

I pointed out to him that he was supposed to wait at the gate for me. I did not need to open up the gate to either sign for the parcel or for him to hand it to me. The gate has a hole in it so this transaction can occur. He just shrugged and told me he was scared of dogs, so…..

This is hardly the first time this has happened to me.

Here’s a quick overview of the delivery issues that I have experienced as a Canadian medical marijuana user:

  1.  The shipping company sent the medicine to a city 3 hours away, and had to reroute it back to my home city for distribution. This meant a 7 day delay in delivery.
  2. The drivers from Canada Post refused to get out of the truck and walk to the gate and ring the buzzer to alert me to their presence. Rather than putting in the effort to deliver directly to me, and let me sign for the medication, they chose instead to just leave a notice in my mailbox that they had been there. But since I was not around, the parcel had been rerouted to a post office and I would have to go pick it up there.

This happened 3 times before. And then it happened again today.

(The post office was, by the way, a 25 minute drive from my house. To pick up my medication means an hour of driving. My pain is triggered after about 10 minutes in a vehicle).

Just last week, a Canada Post mailman admitted to my husband that he just did not want to get out of his vehicle to walk to the buzzer on our gate. His admission came after my husband caught him in the act while he was mowing the lawn. The mailman also said that the post office to which our package was being rerouted to was clearly the wrong one, as it was the farthest possible distance from our home, across the city, and there were other postal outlets that were much closer.

3. Last month, a driver for a private courier picked up the parcel, did not ring the buzzer, and then left a notice for me to go and pick up the parcel at their headquarters. I did so the next day, only to be told that actually, the driver had taken the package and left it at another city and it was not actually available until it this same process could be repeated the next day.

When I called in a complaint about the errors – no effort to get out of the truck and ring the buzzer, and then rerouted incorrectly to another city? I was told by the complaints line rep that “Well, I guess if it’s really that important then you will have to get in your car and drive there to get it yourself.” W.T.F.

When I barked back at them that this was a fine solution – asking the totally disabled cancer survivor with severe mobility concerns to get in the car and drive an hour to fix their errors? I was then quietly told that actually, there was not a thing to be done. If I were a big business, then the courier service would put the time into fixing this. But as a simple individual? My file was destroyed each month, each monthly order was a new entity without any context, and so no continuity of communication could be guaranteed.

4. I have called four times and spoken with both the private courier headquarters, and the licensed provider (LP) from whom I purchase my medication. I have been promised, each time, that someone would call me back and inform me as to how the situation had been resolved. I have only ever had one return call from the LP. I’ve learned that I need to escalate the call up the food chain to speak to supervisors and managers.

Even so, no one has found a solution. The LP has put a shipping label together that gives very specific directions to the driver: Exit vehicle. Ring buzzer on gate. Wait. Mobility issues.

Yet today, when I called the courier and asked them to read back to me any specific directions about the delivery to my house? I was told that there were none on the package. It took me half an hour on the phone with the LP to force them to acknowledge that there is a communication issue between them and the courier service. I was told repeatedly by the LP that this is beyond the scope of what they could address and that I should take this to the courier service.

But I have. To no avail. The courier company just points the finger of blame at the LP. This is the most frustrating thing about being disabled – you are marginalized. It’s an added demand for a company to provide service for you so there are many roadblocks and excuses that pave the way.

When I began to cry, the complaints manager finally started to back up, and offer to involve the company management in the issue. But I hung up on him, because it is humiliating to be driven to the point of breaking down as I plead over and over again for someone to enable me to receive my medication according to the very rules put in place by the government.

I’m grateful that I live in a country which provides access to the medication that I need,  which does not make me so sick that I end up in the hospital. But access to this medication is deliberately and needlessly complicated. It’s a terrible system, really, but it’s clear to me that no one really has the will to make this work for me, a client who relies upon these organizations to live up to their commitments and enable me to receive my medication without hassle.


Photo by FuYong Hua on Unsplash

1 thought on “A rant about Canada’s Medical Marijuana System

  1. I wonder what it is about complications that almost inevitably encourages them to compound? Why is the gravitational pull so strongly away from simplicity and solutions that simply work?


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