Skip to main content

'The message is education and awareness': Chatham to host medical cannabis conference

Examining science versus myth and eliminating the stigma surrounding medical cannabis are the goals of an educational event in Chatham, Ont. this weekend, according to organizers.

The free information session at the WISH Centre is being put on by the Unifor Local 127 Retirees chapter, whose president Bill Zilio said there’s still a lot of lingering misconceptions about cannabis use since it became legalized years ago.

“There been a lot of stigma in the community about cannabis and we want to get the community educated on what it's about,” Zilio said. “I know that it works. I know a lot of people use it, and I’m behind it.”

Zilio said many people utilize medical cannabis to relieve aches and pains, explaining there’s concern about lingering negative perceptions.

“Potheads, crackheads stuff like that, you know, we don't need that stuff. You know what I mean? There's a drug problem in the community, and with opioids and stuff like that, we want to break that stigma,” he said.

Zilio added, “We think that if people use this, it could get them off the opioids and the heavy stuff. We're hoping everybody in the community, young people, old people. Let's face it, it can be beneficial to everybody.”

Keynote speakers include Tina Lively, a clinical pharmacist with Thamesview Family Health Team, and scientist and educator Abhishek Chattopadhyay of Chatham-based AgMedica Bioscience, Inc.

“The message is education and awareness,” Chattopadhyay told CTV News Windsor. “We're trying to undo societal stigma by combating it with the one thing that can always combat stigma, which is knowledge and education.”

Chattopadhyay said he will be discussing the history of cannabis and how we got to where we are today while also exploring botany. Chattopadhyay noted Tina Lively is a registered pharmacist and an expert on the medical application of cannabis and cannabinoids.

According to Chattopadhyay, there are still many people that are hesitant or shy to share what they’re going through with the benefits of cannabis.

“People in their families may not understand and it's all about ultimately reaching out to the community and giving them the information so they can feel empowered to make the right decisions and feel comfortable with it,” he said.

He continued, “I'm really hoping that the people who have concerns, who have doubts about this, are the people that show up. For those who are already convinced, this will be a great way for them to have even better knowledge than they might have access to. But doctors, people with ailments, people who are currently taking opioids and concerned about their opioid usage, those are some of the people we're really hoping to speak to.”

Chattopadhyay said developing a stigma is not an overnight process, and therefore trying to educate others about it is not an overnight process either.

“Change comes one day at a time slowly and steadily and that's what we're here to do,” he said.

The event takes place Sept. 16 starting at 9 a.m. with presentations beginning at 9:30 a.m., followed by a question and answer session. Top Stories

Stay Connected