Alan Young, a legendary Canadian lawyer who donates countless hours to the cause of cannabis freedom, says that the lack of a pot supply means that new medical pot regs introduced in the summer of 2001 are unconstitutional. “It violates the Constitution to give sick people the right to choose a medicine without giving them lawful access to that medicine. We have letters from patients and compassion clubs, all saying that they can’t live under the new regime.”
Under the new med-pot regulations, even patients who already have exemptions may not qualify when they must reapply. For example, Allan and Robbin Basaraba received their exemptions under the old system, which required only the recommendation of a GP (CC#22, Med-pot in Canada: illusion or reality?). They are worried about applying under the new system, which requires the recommendation of two specialists. Even Terry Parker, whose court challenge gave him the constitutional right to use and grow medical marijuana (CC#28, Canada’s med-pot push) believes it will be impossible for him to find two neurologists to recommend marijuana for his epilepsy.
Like Young, John Turmel has mounted a constitutional challenge of Canada’s new med-pot laws, saying that they endanger the lives of sick people who must wait months or even years to receive their exemption from Health Canada, sometimes being turned down by mistake. A publication ban, enforced at the request of the crown, has Turmel’s lips sealed on what is going on with the case, but he is cross-examining high-ranking officials of Health Canada’s Medical Marijuana Access Regulations Office, and that potentially scandalous information is being aired in court.
The difficult new regulations have everyone wondering if Health Canada isn’t intentionally trying to interfere with patients’ right to use and obtain medical marijuana. In June 2001, exemptees Johnny Dupuis, Nicole Massicotte, Marc Paquette, Don Appleby and Robert Neron filed a complaint with the Federal Human Rights Commission. The commission is taking the complaint seriously, says Dupuis, and have begun a comprehensive investigation.
Meanwhile, the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) issued a public statement complaining that, under the new regulations, “physicians are required to act as a gatekeeper to an unproven drug, while being exposed to full liability for its impact.”
Although the CMA has a legitimate concern, the organization isn’t without its own bias. In the same statement the CMA issued a blanket disapproval of all herbs that haven’t undergone the expensive testing process used for pharmaceutical drugs. The combined pressure of the new regulations and the CMA make it unlikely that many doctors will be open to writing med-pot prescriptions.
Paradoxically, the new regulations were supposed to make life easier for medical users. In the summer of 2000, Canadian courts had found the old ones so bad that they ordered them changed within a year or all of Canada’s marijuana laws would be declared null and void.
If either Alan Young or John Turmel should succeed in their challenges, marijuana prohibition might well end in Canada. The only people not sporting smoky smiles will be Health Canada officials and the police.