Leslie Johnson wants to help bring medical marijuana into the mainstream, and the first step is getting users and growers licensed.
The Malakwa resident has begun something of a grassroots venture in the form of Eagle Valley Medical Marijuana (EVMM). Johnson, through EVMM, is offering assistance to anyone who may use or is considering using medical marijuana, but who finds the federal licensing process, and the related paperwork, intimidating. The same goes, he says, for growers in the Shuswap area whose product could be legitimately sold to help people with a variety of medical conditions.
“This is just an independent venture to educate people who are unlicensed, to help them get licensed; for growers who have the ability and education to grow, but who aren’t growing because it’s illegal – to get them designated as legal growers…,” says Johnson, noting there are many who are still unaware this avenue is available.
“Back East it’s been happening since 1999, but right now you send your paperwork to Ottawa, and you order your marijuana out of Saskatchewan, through Prairie Plant Systems. But it takes up to a couple of weeks to get to you… so it’s not readily available and the quality is questionable.”
Johnson is licensed to grow and use marijuana. He says it’s for chronic pain from a back injury sustained in an automobile accident 20 years ago.
“What happened with me from my car accident is the bone healed on the inside of the vertebrae so it rubs on my main spinal cord,” Johnson explained. “There is no surgery available for it. They just basically told me I’d have chronic pain for the rest of my life.”
Johnson was taking prescription drugs for the pain, but these provided no comfort. Instead, they came with a host of new problems, from stomach pains (and a resulting ulcer), to weight loss, sleep disturbances and hallucinations.
As an alternative, someone suggested Johnson try marijuana. The results were encouraging, but the laws were not. He says he tried growing his own in 1994 and, as a result, wound up getting arrested. Johnson’s defence, that he was using for medical purposes, had no legal backing at the time. But things have since changed. In 2001, Canada became the first country to allow the possession of medical marijuana, and Johnson navigated his way through the application process to successfully acquire his licence to grow and use.
Instead of having to rely on product from out of the province, however, Johnson believes British Columbians should be able to “provide our own medicine for each other, and support our own economy.” Licensing is key, and his long-term vision to better help facilitate this process is to create a compassion club society similar to those in Kelowna and Kamloops. Johnson says there’s interest and support for such a thing in Salmon Arm, and that he’s already had preliminary discussions with both city staff and the RCMP.
For now however, Johnson is doing all that he can to help others through Eagle Valley Medical Marijuana, and welcomes anyone wanting information or help to get in touch with him, either through Facebook (under Leslie Johnson), or by leaving a message with JJ’s Hemp Hollow in Salmon Arm at 250-833-1414.