'Already hurting enough': Pain patient challenges plan to tax medical marijuana

Medical marijuana users are speaking out against a proposed federal tax on the drug that many are already struggling to pay for.

“I found it quite shocking, because there is supposed to be a law against taxing medication,” said Reba Stellmaker, an Edmonton woman who uses marijuana to treat fibromyalgia, degenerative disc disease and chronic pain.

“In my eyes, that’s exactly what the government is doing. They’re trying to gain from people that are already hurting enough.”

Stellmaker is on disability and pays $250 a month for medical cannabis, as the drug is not covered under Canadian health plans.

An added tax, she said, would be hard to afford.

“Being on disability it’s a challenge enough just trying to pay for your core needs,” Stellmaker said.

Before marijuana, she was on a cocktail of opioids, antidepressants and sleeping pills.

Stellmaker said she was taking eight Oxycontins a day, as well as eight Gabapentins and six Metadol-Ds, after she was in a serious car crash in 2010 when a man fell asleep at the wheel and drove into her car head-on.

The pain, and the effects of the drugs, caused her to lose her career in materials engineering and plunged her into a deep depression.

Stellmaker’s legs swelled up and she spent most of her time in bed.

“I was pretty close to being vegetabalized,” she said.

“I was really close to the edge of leaving Earth when I was going through all of this.”

On her birthday that same year, she visited her daughter and tried marijuana that her daughter had baked some into a batch of cookies.

Stellmaker slept through the night

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