Article by Paola Loriggio, Hamilton Spectaror
A Toronto man who uses a wheelchair has filed a human rights complaint challenging Ontario’s cannabis sales regulations, arguing the province’s system discriminates against those with disabilities and limited financial means.
Ken Harrower, who uses cannabis to relieve symptoms from a condition affecting his joints and other medical issues, says the city has too few private retail stores, which he alleges are not wheelchair-accessible.
He also alleges the province’s government-run online cannabis store is too slow to deliver the product and too expensive for those on government assistance or without credit.
“I often need (cannabis) urgently for pain relief and to help me to sleep. I need cannabis on an on-demand basis,” he said Wednesday in a news conference.
“I am on (the Ontario Disability Support Program) and have very limited funds that barely cover my day-to-day expenses. I do not have enough money or the ability to purchase through the (Ontario Cannabis Store) system, because I do not have available credit.”
Harrower, 57, said he faces the same financial barriers and delays trying to purchase medicinal cannabis, which is also sold online.
His lawyer, Selwyn Pieters, said he hopes the case brings change to Ontario’s “flawed and undignified” cannabis sales system.
“The poorly planned, phased approach for the rollout of retail cannabis outlets, as outlined by the Ontario government, has neglected to take into account the needs of all Canadians,” he said.
Pieters said they will be asking the tribunal for an expedited hearing to deal with the case, and are seeking a stay on enforcement of the cannabis regulations until the issues highlighted in the complaint are resolved.
That would allow illegal dispensaries — where Harrower said he was previously able to obtain cannabis once or twice a day — to operate. Harrower said several dispensaries he used to buy from have been shut down by police.