Patients who rely on medical marijuana may find it more difficult to get after the federal government announced major changes to the existing system.

Winnipegger Steven Stairs relies on the drug to treat his glaucoma and relieve his pain, and he’s one of 26,000 Canadians with a license to grow medical marijuana.

Under proposed changes to existing regulations, those Canadians will no longer be able to grow their own pot.

Canada’s Minister of Health, Leona Aglukkaq, said recently, “Current medical marijuana regulations have left the system open to abuse.”

Under new regulations, the Canadian government and individual growers will no longer be able to produce their own pot. Instead, private companies will produce the marijuana and sell it to patients. The changes are aimed at reducing crime, but opponents believe it will drive more people to the black market.

“They’re making it harder for people to get the medicine they need, and it’s going to mean more and more profits in the hands of organized crime,” said Mark Calderaro of the Carleton University Young Liberals.

The proposed changes will also mean higher costs for patients.

That, according to Stairs, is concerning for people who rely on medical marijuana.

“A lot of people who are using medical marijuana are disabled,” said Stairs. “They have a lower income earning ratio already.”

The federal government is planning on implementing the new system by March 31, 2014.