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Medical Marijuana More Accessible But Costly In Barrie, ON

Robert Celt

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The first time James Dean Wolfenden had a seizure, he fell in a school hallway, cutting open his head when he smacked it on the floor.

The Barrie boy had no family history of epilepsy, but he was having a massive episode in front of his Grade 6 classmates.

That was the first of many. Now 17, he can have about 150 seizures a day unless he ingests medical marijuana.

Accessing the product may soon become easier, now that a medical marijuana centre is opening in Barrie.

"I wasn't even able to look after myself properly. Since I don't have seizures as often, I feel normal. I have more motivation," Wolfenden said. "People think it would be the opposite with marijuana."

He has taken medication to curb his seizures since 2009, but it was not until he tried medical marijuana about six months ago that he saw a major difference.

Instead of 150 seizures a day, he has about 10.

"It feels like my brain will overheat (when I have a seizure). Too much information at the same time," he said. "I'll black out or twitch or stare at something for a few seconds. If I miss my medication, I'll have even worse seizures that last 45 minutes to an hour."

Even though he has a medical marijuana prescription, it costs $1,000 a month to maintain his dosage because it is not covered by health insurance, said his mom, Kelly.

She said she orders the marijuana through one of the 17 Health Canada-licensed producers in Ontario.

It has a high cannabidiol (CBD) content, which is the medical ingredient, and a low tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content, which is what creates a high.

Wolfenden said vaping the drug or ingesting it as oil makes him feel relaxed, helps him sleep, eat more and be less anxious.

It is safer than a drug bought from an illegal dealer and guarantees the amount of medicinal ingredient, he said.

"It makes you happy to see your child happy, (but) where am I going to get (the funds to cover his prescription) so he can function?" Kelly said.

She has contacted politicians and set up donation boxes at Pizza Plus & Subs, The Red Koi Tattoos and Mac's Convenience Store on Grove Street. She also hopes local charities can help cover some of the costs.

Wolfenden said having a medical marijuana store in Barrie would at least make it easier to get the drugs he needs.

"That would be a lot more convenient. Keeping it for medical purposes and getting it out of the grey zone it is in right now."

Medical marijuana centre Tweed Main Street plans to open on Dunlop Street near Uptown Theatre within the next couple months, said Mark Zekulin, president of Tweed Inc.

The company is licensed with Health Canada and has locations in Guelph, Hamilton and Etobicoke.

Although its Barrie site will look like a regular store, no cannabis products will be sold there, he said.

"We are not (a) dispensary that sells drugs to you as you walk through the door. That's the most important fact," Zekulin said.

The company is aiming to have an open, welcoming atmosphere where anyone, whether or not they use medical marijuana, can come and learn about cannabis, seek advice on which strains of the drug may work best for them, and place orders, with assistance if needed.

All orders will still arrive in the mail to people's addresses as usual.

Customers will also be able to buy merchandise and Tweed Pantry items, such as cupcake mix to which cannabis oil can be added.

"When we started three years ago, there was a lot more stigma about medical cannabis," Zekulin said. "We are there to help people learn. Calling it 'Main Street' is really calling it out and saying it needs to be mainstream."

He said part of the reason he chose Barrie for a Tweed Main Street location is the fact Justin Whitehall, former medical director of Simcoe Holistic Health, is based here.

Whitehall is overseeing the local Tweed brand licensing and training.

"This is a dream come true for me," he said. "I have experience running a cannabis clinic over the last three years. To me, this is the most patient-focused framework in Canada."



News Moderator: Robert Celt 420 MAGAZINE ®
Full Article: Medical Marijuana More Accessible But Costly In Barrie, ON
Author: Jenni Dunning
Contact: Simcoe.com
Photo Credit: Getty Images
Website: Simcoe.com
 
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