As the Liberal government’s pledge to legalize recreational cannabis comes closer to becoming a Canadian reality, the question of what federal reform will mean for medical patients continues to pique. What will become of the ACMPR? How will people access their medicine? Perhaps most importantly, who will advocate for patient rights after cannabis is crowned a legal commodity?
At Bedrocan, Hilary Black is leading that charge. The company’s Director of Patient and Community Services, Hilary is at the centre of a number of significant education and patient access initiatives. Particularly, she is in the driver’s seat of our safe-driving campaign with MADD and recently spearheaded the E-90 petition to have sales tax removed from medical cannabis.
Earlier this year, she worked on a collaborative project with the Arthritis Society, Canadians for Safe Access and the Canadian AIDS Society to develop a list of recommendations for the federal government to consider in the context of the country’s timely medical cannabis conversation. Those recommendations, which were presented on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, included amendments to affordability, access and research.
“Medical patients should not be paying sales tax,” Hilary says. “The ambiguous status of cannabis means it doesn’t have approval as a drug or medicine, which is allowing the government to tax it when they shouldn’t be, and also making it very difficult to get insurance. The reason they’ve been charging for it is unfair.”
As founder of the country’s first compassion club in 1997, Hilary has for the last 20 years worked to break down barriers to patient access to cannabis. In the early days of her career, she advocated at the BC Compassion Club for AIDS patients and was inspired to a lifetime’s work one afternoon after watching an elderly, bed-ridden woman revitalized by the power of a shared joint.
“She was like a person coming out of a 100-year sleep, moving and stretching for the first time,” Hilary recalls. “She got out of bed and went and made us a cup of tea, carried them back into the bedroom and then started crying because it was the first time in a really long time she was able to carry a cup of tea her arthritis was so bad… I still remember what I was wearing that day."
It’s that lucid understanding of her calling that has helped catapult Hilary to the forefront of the medical cannabis community in this country. To tag her mission to a legal channel from which to broadcast, so to speak, she joined Bedrocan in 2014. She has spent the time since helping the company expand its market reach, while keeping the rights of medical patients and access to affordable cannabis front and centre of her mandate.
“I joined Bedrocan Canada to work inside the legal medical cannabis regime in order to be able to break down barriers to access for all patients across the country. I was attracted to Bedrocan’s rich history,” she says, “including the 20 years of experience in Europe and dispensing through pharmacies in multiple countries, and the pioneering of standardized cannabis. Bedrocan's reputation and reliability is a powerful tool in breaking barriers to access.”
A result of her compassionate reach in the medical cannabis community, Hilary has throughout her career garnered accolades and recognition for her work. She was named one of the most influential British Columbians of all time and is also the recipient of the prestigious Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal. For more, follow Hilary on Twitter @MzBlack.