Canadian MP Libby Davies Speaks Out About Drug Policy

New Democratic Party MP Libby DaviesNew Democratic Party MP Libby DaviesBelow you will find recent letters that Member of Parliament Libby Davies has sent to the Prime Minister and the Minister of Health on Insite, as well as to the Auditor General on the poorly managed Medical Marijuana Program. She says ?I will continue to push for progressive changes in all of these areas?!
June 30, 2006

Sheila Fraser
Auditor General of Canada

Dear Ms. Fraser,

I am writing to you today to re-affirm my earlier request that your office conduct an investigation into Health Canada?s medical marijuana program. You may recall that I and Senator Nolin wrote to you in December of 2004, where we requested an investigation into the administration of the Office of Cannabis Medical Access (OCMA). A follow up to this request was sent in July of 2005.

While our offices did receive acknowledgement of our letter, and we appreciate the number of requests you must receive, we still feel that the OCMA, along with the Health Canada?s questionable contract with Prairie Plant Systems (PPS) as the sole supplier of medical marijuana in Canada, are deserving of your attention.

By all accounts, Health Canada?s medical marijuana program has been a dismal failure. Since July of 2003, when a Supreme Court decision forced Health Canada to supply medical marijuana to chronically ill Canadians, the OCMA has been plagued with problems of providing those in need with adequate access to a safe and reliable supply of cannabis. As of April of last year, a mere 813 Canadians had benefited from this program.

This is despite Health Canada?s own research which suggests that there are over 290,000 medical marijuana users in British Columbia alone! The OCMA has been unable to overcome the strict barriers put in place by the Medicinal Marijuana Access Regulations, leaving countless chronically ill Canadians without access to their only source of relief for chronic pain.

Along with the OCMA?s mismanagement, we would urge you to also investigate the contract between Health Canada and PPS. This domestic supply of research-grade cannabis was grown in a mineshaft in Flin Flon, Manitoba, and questions about both its quality and its safety have been raised.

Tests done by several organizations have found that the cannabis grown by PPS contains dangerously high levels of both lead and arsenic. Nevertheless, this five-year long contract, worth $5.7 million, has been arbitrarily extended by the government without going through the proper public RFP procedures or review. We believe that this is unacceptable in the face of the evidence of potentially dangerous chemicals existing in the Flin Flon mine.

We firmly believe that the inadequacies in Health Canada?s medical marijuana program and contracting policies deserve your attention. For the sake of all Canadians who suffer from chronic pain, we urge you to investigate the OCMA. Please feel free to contact my office for any further information that you may require, and I look forward to your reply on this important matter. Thank you for your time.

Yours Sincerely,
Libby Davies, MP
Vancouver East


December 5, 2005

Stephen Harper, Leader
Conservative Party of Canada

Dear Mr. Harper,

I write to express my disappointment in your reading your comments to cut a successful drug treatment and outreach program in my community.

I was shocked to hear of your ill informed position on North America?s only safe-injection site which is located in my riding in the Downtown Eastside.

I invite you to meet with Insite staff and its clients on your next visit to Vancouver to see for yourself the valuable and necessary service this program provides to our community.

Community service organizations in Vancouver East are national leaders in drug treatment and outreach programs. They understand what you do not, that poverty, addiction and homelessness are human problems not criminal problems and won?t be solved with longer prison terms.

This unique program has been successful in reducing HIV and Hepatitis C infections as well as connecting drug users to treatment services. As pointed by B.C.?s Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Perry Kendall, ?The facility has played an essential role as an entry point to the health-care system for treating those with addictions.?

I urge you, on your next visit to Vancouver, to accept my invitation to get the real facts on drug use and the safe-injection site.

Libby Davies
NDP Candidate
Vancouver East


June 1, 2006

The Right Hon. Stephen Harper, P.C., M.P.
Prime Minister of Canada

Dear Prime Minister,

I would like to draw to your attention to the enclosed recent scientific evaluation of Vancouver?s medically supervised safe injection facility.

This paper shows very clearly the positive impact of the facility, both in improving public health and in decreasing crime. You may be aware that the chief of police in Vancouver recently called for the ongoing operation of the facility for three years.

While I realize that such a facility may appear to be at odds with your views on drug use, the hard evidence is showing us that safe injection sites are a key component in responding to the drug crisis in many urban areas.

I sincerely hope you will renew the exemption, and not leap to erroneous conclusions about this valuable program.

Yours sincerely,
Libby Davies
MP, Vancouver East

cc. Health Minister Tony Clement
Evan Wood
Senator Nolin
Mayor Sam Sullivan
Heather Hay


July 4, 2006

The Hon. Tony Clement, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Health

Dear Minister,

I am following up on a letter that I sent to Prime Minister Harper, and copy circulated to you, on June 1st of this year regarding Vancouver?s Safe Injection Site, known as Insite. In that letter, I included a recent study by ?Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy?, which showed that Vancouver?s Insite was not associated with a marked increase in drug-related criminal activity. In fact, it showed a significant decline in break-ins and thefts since its opening. However, since Insite is up for federal review in September, I felt it urgent that you receive as much evidence as possible that shows the success of Insite, in the belief that Insite must continue.

Enclosed, I have included a research summary by Vancouver Coastal Health, which shows the tremendous success of Insite in reducing harm to those who use illicit drugs. Most notably, the research shows that Insite is leading to an increase in users who choose to enter detoxification programs and addiction treatment, and that 453 overdoses have resulted in no fatalities thanks to the availability of qualified medical staff. I hope you find the included facts helpful to recognize that Insite is performing well and needs ongoing support.

Because of the importance of Insite in reducing harm to so many of my constituents in the downtown eastside of Vancouver, I am requesting a meeting with you in order to further discuss this matter. I hope you will seriously consider my request. I feel very strongly that the evidence is clear, and would welcome the opportunity to let you know how strongly Insite is supported in Vancouver.

I thank you for your time, and anxiously await your reply.

Yours sincerely,
Libby Davies, MP
Vancouver East

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