New Plan Kowtows To Law Enforcement; Ignores Patients
Canada is changing the way citizens there can access marijuana for medical purposes, it was announced Sunday. The changes were made at the suggestion law enforcement officials, and seemingly without consulting medical professionals or patients at all.
"Current medical marihuana regulations have left the system open to abuse," claimed Minister of Health Leona Aglukkaq. "We have heard real concerns from law enforcement, fire officials, and municipalities about how people are hiding behind these rules to conduct illegal activity, and putting health and safety of Canadians at risk.
"These changes will make it far more difficult for people to game the system," Aglukkaq claimed.
|Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press|
|Minister of Health Leona Aglukkaq: "We have heard real concerns from law enforcement"|
Unfortunately, the Minister of Health didn't mention talking with any, you know, patients, since this is medical marijuana we're talking about. Guess the "health and safety" of medical marijuana patients wasn't even considered while they were making all these new rules -- at the direction of law enforcement, apparently without any input from medical experts -- wasn't considered at all.
In the past decade, Health Canada's Marihuana Medical Access Program has grown from fewer than 500 authorized patients in 2002 to more than 26,000 today. Rather than take that as a sterling example of a successful program, however, Canadian law enforcement -- perhaps taking a cue from their dim-witted brethren in the United States -- somehow see that as a bad thing, and seem unhealthily worried that someone, somewhere, might be copping an unauthorized buzz.
Aglukkaq, while claiming that the proposed new regulations will somehow "protect the health, safety and security of Canadians and their communities by eliminating the production of marihuana in homes," appears to be an ill-informed stool pigeon for the cops, or perhaps an uncaring, ambitious politician who doesn't care how many sick people she tramples underfoot in her unseemly quest for power.
|Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs|
|Stephen Gamble, president, Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs: "We applaud the Government of Canada for strengthening Health Canada's regulations for marihuana for medical purposes"|
The Canadian government will no longer produce and distribute marijuana for medical purposes, opening up the market to companies which meet what it calls "strict security requirements." Cultivation will no loner be allowed in private homes, supposedly to "enhance public safety."
The government has for years sold patients federally produced cannabis for $5 per gram, which the Health Ministry described as "heavily subsidized."
"An average of one in 22 grow operations (legal and illegal) catch fire, which is 24 times higher than the average home," claimed Stephen Gamble, president of the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs. "We applaud the Government of Canada for strengthening Health Canada's regulations for marihuana for medical purposes to enhance the safety of Canada's firefighters and the communities they protect."
"Changes are necessary to reduce the risk of abuse and exploitation by criminal elements," claimed Vancouver Chief Constable Jim Chu. "We very much appreciate the collaborative relationship the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police enjoys with Health Canada and how they are responding to the unintended public safety impact through the proposed changes to the Marihuana Medical Access Program."
|Vancouver Chief Constable Jim Chu: "We very much appreciate the collaborative relationship the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police enjoys with Health Canada..." (What about the patients?)|
Umm... OK. Now, Chief Constable Chu, if Health Canada enjoyed the same "collaborative relationship" with, er, patients as it did with cops, maybe we could spend more time concentrating on how to get marijuana to sick people and less time trying to make cannabis seem scary.
Supposedly "in response to concerns from patients" (yeah, right), the proposed new Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations supposedly treat marijuana "as much as possible like any other narcotic used for medical purposes."
Health care practitioners will be able to sign a medical document similar to a prescription, and then patients can buy the authorized amount from an authorized vendor.
"These changes strike the right balance between patient access and public safety," Minister Agulukkaq said.
So now it becomes obvious when anti-marijuana government officials take the right to grow their own medicine away from patients, they will do so under the ruse of "protecting public health and safety" and "preventing home fires."
"It is the Government's intention to to fully implement this new system by March 31, 2014," Aglukkaq said. "On this date, all authorizations to possess and licenses to produce issued under the current program would expire, and all individuals requiring marihuana for medical purposes would have to purchase it from licensed producers."
Details of the proposed new regulations are posted here. There will be a 75-day comment period and the Department will be receiving comments until February 28, 2013.
Here are some key dates in the transition to the new system, according to Health Canada:
Winter 2012• Health Canada, through Public Works and Government Services Canada, will keep its contract with Prairie Plant Systems for the production and distribution of marihuana for medical purposes. This contract will run until March 31, 2014, and will make sure that program participants who choose to purchase dried marihuana from Health Canada will continue to have access to a legal supply of marihuana for medical purposes during the transition period.• Health Canada will inform interested parties that they may apply to become authorized to conduct certain research and development activities with marihuana now, including testing plant materials and growing conditions. These activities could help potential licensed producers to be ready to apply for a licence as soon as the proposed regulations come into force.Spring 2013• The Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR) are expected to come into force.In order to facilitate the transition from the Marihuana Medical Access Program (MMAP) to the MMPR, both would operate concurrently from the time the new regulations come into force until March 31, 2014. During that time, individuals could choose to continue to access marihuana for medical purposes under the MMAP or order directly from a licensed producer (as soon as they are approved by Health Canada).• Individuals would be allowed to use their Health Canada-issued authorization to possess or the medical declaration signed by their physician, for up to one year, to register with a licensed producer and place an order for dried marihuana from a licensed producer. This would help make sure that patients can access dried marihuana and it would not be interrupted when the current program comes to an end.• Once the first established licensed producers have set a price for dried marihuana, Health Canada will align the price of its own supply.October 1, 2013• For authorized users under the Marihuana Medical Access Program (MMAP), this system would begin to wind down. Health Canada would no longer accept new applications under the MMAP for production licences or applications to change the location of a production site. This is because the time required to obtain seeds and produce a viable crop of marihuana for medical purposes is approximately six months and all production under the current program must end on March 31, 2014.• Health Canada would continue to renew personal use and designated production licences under the current MMAP.• Health Canada's supply would be available until March 31, 2014. Supply provided by approved licensed producers, will also be available after the coming into force of the MMPR and will be the only source of supply after March 31, 2014.• For new applicants, after October 1, 2013, individuals requiring access to marihuana for medical purposes who do not already hold a valid production licence for a given site would either have to obtain dried marihuana from Health Canada (until March 31, 2014 only), or go directly to an approved licensed producer.April 1, 2014• The new system is expected to be fully implemented and the MMAP would end.• All authorizations to possess and licences to produce issued under the current program would expire. Holders of personal use and designated person production licences would no longer be allowed to grow their own crop.• Health Canada would no longer produce or sell marihuana for medical purposes.• All individuals requiring access to marihuana for medical purposes would have to obtain it from a licensed producer. This competitive industry would set its own prices, choose to sell a variety of strains, and be subject to security requirements, inspections, and good manufacturing practices.